P-sort: an open-source software for cerebellar neurophysiology

J Neurophysiol. 2021 Oct 1;126(4):1055-1075. doi: 10.1152/jn.00172.2021. Epub 2021 Aug 25.


Analysis of electrophysiological data from Purkinje cells (P-cells) of the cerebellum presents unique challenges to spike sorting. Complex spikes have waveforms that vary significantly from one event to the next, raising the problem of misidentification. Even when complex spikes are detected correctly, the simple spikes may belong to a different P-cell, raising the danger of misattribution. To address these identification and attribution problems, we wrote an open-source, semiautomated software called P-sort, and then tested it by analyzing data from P-cells recorded in three species: marmosets, macaques, and mice. Like other sorting software, P-sort relies on nonlinear dimensionality reduction to cluster spikes. However, it also uses the statistical relationship between simple and complex spikes to merge disparate clusters and split a single cluster. In comparison with expert manual curation, occasionally P-sort identified significantly more complex spikes, as well as prevented misattribution of clusters. Three existing automatic sorters performed less well, particularly for identification of complex spikes. To improve the development of analysis tools for the cerebellum, we provide labeled data for 313 recording sessions, as well as statistical characteristics of waveforms and firing patterns of P-cells in three species.NEW & NOTEWORTHY Algorithms that perform spike sorting depend on waveforms to cluster spikes. However, a cerebellar Purkinje-cell produces two types of spikes; simple and complex spikes. A complex spike coincides with the suppression of generating simple spikes. Here, we recorded neurophysiological data from three species and developed a spike analysis software named P-sort that relies on this statistical property to improve both the detection and the attribution of simple and complex spikes in the cerebellum.

Keywords: Purkinje cell; cerebellum; open database; open-source software; spike sorter.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Callithrix
  • Electroencephalography* / instrumentation
  • Electroencephalography* / methods
  • Electrophysiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Female
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*
  • Software*