Measures of spike train synchrony for data with multiple time scales

J Neurosci Methods. 2017 Aug 1;287:25-38. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2017.05.028. Epub 2017 Jun 3.


Background: Measures of spike train synchrony are widely used in both experimental and computational neuroscience. Time-scale independent and parameter-free measures, such as the ISI-distance, the SPIKE-distance and SPIKE-synchronization, are preferable to time scale parametric measures, since by adapting to the local firing rate they take into account all the time scales of a given dataset.

New method: In data containing multiple time scales (e.g. regular spiking and bursts) one is typically less interested in the smallest time scales and a more adaptive approach is needed. Here we propose the A-ISI-distance, the A-SPIKE-distance and A-SPIKE-synchronization, which generalize the original measures by considering the local relative to the global time scales. For the A-SPIKE-distance we also introduce a rate-independent extension called the RIA-SPIKE-distance, which focuses specifically on spike timing.

Results: The adaptive generalizations A-ISI-distance and A-SPIKE-distance allow to disregard spike time differences that are not relevant on a more global scale. A-SPIKE-synchronization does not any longer demand an unreasonably high accuracy for spike doublets and coinciding bursts. Finally, the RIA-SPIKE-distance proves to be independent of rate ratios between spike trains.

Comparison with existing methods: We find that compared to the original versions the A-ISI-distance and the A-SPIKE-distance yield improvements for spike trains containing different time scales without exhibiting any unwanted side effects in other examples. A-SPIKE-synchronization matches spikes more efficiently than SPIKE-synchronization.

Conclusions: With these proposals we have completed the picture, since we now provide adaptive generalized measures that are sensitive to firing rate only (A-ISI-distance), to timing only (ARI-SPIKE-distance), and to both at the same time (A-SPIKE-distance).

Keywords: Burst; Data analysis; ISI-distance; SPIKE-distance; SPIKE-synchronization; Spike train distances; Time-scale.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials*
  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Microelectrodes
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Periodicity
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Thalamus / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Culture Techniques