Reconstructing stimuli from the spike times of leaky integrate and fire neurons

Front Neurosci. 2011 Feb 23;5:1. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2011.00001. eCollection 2011.


Reconstructing stimuli from the spike trains of neurons is an important approach for understanding the neural code. One of the difficulties associated with this task is that signals which are varying continuously in time are encoded into sequences of discrete events or spikes. An important problem is to determine how much information about the continuously varying stimulus can be extracted from the time-points at which spikes were observed, especially if these time-points are subject to some sort of randomness. For the special case of spike trains generated by leaky integrate and fire neurons, noise can be introduced by allowing variations in the threshold every time a spike is released. A simple decoding algorithm previously derived for the noiseless case can be extended to the stochastic case, but turns out to be biased. Here, we review a solution to this problem, by presenting a simple yet efficient algorithm which greatly reduces the bias, and therefore leads to better decoding performance in the stochastic case.

Keywords: Bayesian inference; decoding; leaky integrate and fire; population coding; spiking neurons.