Inferring synaptic inputs from spikes with a conductance-based neural encoding model

Elife. 2019 Dec 18;8:e47012. doi: 10.7554/eLife.47012.

Abstract

Descriptive statistical models of neural responses generally aim to characterize the mapping from stimuli to spike responses while ignoring biophysical details of the encoding process. Here, we introduce an alternative approach, the conductance-based encoding model (CBEM), which describes a mapping from stimuli to excitatory and inhibitory synaptic conductances governing the dynamics of sub-threshold membrane potential. Remarkably, we show that the CBEM can be fit to extracellular spike train data and then used to predict excitatory and inhibitory synaptic currents. We validate these predictions with intracellular recordings from macaque retinal ganglion cells. Moreover, we offer a novel quasi-biophysical interpretation of the Poisson generalized linear model (GLM) as a special case of the CBEM in which excitation and inhibition are perfectly balanced. This work forges a new link between statistical and biophysical models of neural encoding and sheds new light on the biophysical variables that underlie spiking in the early visual pathway.

Keywords: neuroscience; retinal circuitry; rhesus macaque; statistical modeling; synaptic condutances.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Biophysical Phenomena
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Macaca mulatta / physiology
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Conduction / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*

Associated data

  • figshare/10.6084/m9.figshare.9636854