Higher-Order Cumulants Drive Neuronal Activity Patterns, Inducing UP-DOWN States in Neural Populations

Entropy (Basel). 2020 Apr 22;22(4):477. doi: 10.3390/e22040477.


A major challenge in neuroscience is to understand the role of the higher-order correlations structure of neuronal populations. The dichotomized Gaussian model (DG) generates spike trains by means of thresholding a multivariate Gaussian random variable. The DG inputs are Gaussian distributed, and thus have no interactions beyond the second order in their inputs; however, they can induce higher-order correlations in the outputs. We propose a combination of analytical and numerical techniques to estimate higher-order, above the second, cumulants of the firing probability distributions. Our findings show that a large amount of pairwise interactions in the inputs can induce the system into two possible regimes, one with low activity ("DOWN state") and another one with high activity ("UP state"), and the appearance of these states is due to a combination between the third- and fourth-order cumulant. This could be part of a mechanism that would help the neural code to upgrade specific information about the stimuli, motivating us to examine the behavior of the critical fluctuations through the Binder cumulant close to the critical point. We show, using the Binder cumulant, that higher-order correlations in the outputs generate a critical neural system that portrays a second-order phase transition.

Keywords: Fisher information and Shannon entropy; PDF evaluation; collective dynamics; critical fluctuations and binder cumulant; dynamic states; high activity states; higher-order correlations; information processing; low activity states; neuronal activity.