Automatic sorting of multiple unit neuronal signals in the presence of anisotropic and non-Gaussian variability

J Neurosci Methods. 1996 Nov;69(2):175-88. doi: 10.1016/S0165-0270(96)00050-7.


Neuronal noise sources and systematic variability in the shape of a spike limit the ability to sort multiple unit waveforms recorded from nervous tissue into their single neuron constituents. Here we present a procedure to efficiently sort spikes in the presence of noise that is anisotropic, i.e., dominated by particular frequencies, and whose amplitude distribution may be non-Gaussian, such as occurs when spike waveforms are a function of interspike interval. Our algorithm uses a hierarchical clustering scheme. First, multiple unit records are sorted into an overly large number of clusters by recursive bisection. Second, these clusters are progressively aggregated into a minimal set of putative single units based on both similarities of spike shape as well as the statistics of spike arrival times, such as imposed by the refractory period. We apply the algorithm to waveforms recorded with chronically implanted micro-wire stereotrodes from neocortex of behaving rat. Natural extension of the algorithm may be used to cluster spike waveforms from records with many input channels, such as those obtained with tetrodes and multiple site optical techniques.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Algorithms*
  • Animals
  • Anisotropy
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Electrophysiology / methods*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology*
  • Normal Distribution
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Vibrissae / innervation
  • Vibrissae / physiology