Temporal coding in a nervous system


We examined the extent to which temporal encoding may be implemented by single neurons in the cercal sensory system of the house cricket Acheta domesticus. We found that these neurons exhibit a greater-than-expected coding capacity, due in part to an increased precision in brief patterns of action potentials. We developed linear and non-linear models for decoding the activity of these neurons. We found that the stimuli associated with short-interval patterns of spikes (ISIs of 8 ms or less) could be predicted better by second-order models as compared to linear models. Finally, we characterized the difference between these linear and second-order models in a low-dimensional subspace, and showed that modification of the linear models along only a few dimensions improved their predictive power to parity with the second order models. Together these results show that single neurons are capable of using temporal patterns of spikes as fundamental symbols in their neural code, and that they communicate specific stimulus distributions to subsequent neural structures.




Z. N. Aldworth, A. G. Dimitrov, G. I. Cummins, T. Gedeon, and J. P. Miller, “Temporal Encoding in a Nervous System,” PLoS Computational Biology, vol. 7, no. 5, p. e1002041, May 2011.
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