4 years ago

Neuron’s eye view: Inferring features of complex stimuli from neural responses

Xin Chen, John M. Pearson, Jeffrey M. Beck

by Xin Chen, Jeffrey M. Beck, John M. Pearson

Experiments that study neural encoding of stimuli at the level of individual neurons typically choose a small set of features present in the world—contrast and luminance for vision, pitch and intensity for sound—and assemble a stimulus set that systematically varies along these dimensions. Subsequent analysis of neural responses to these stimuli typically focuses on regression models, with experimenter-controlled features as predictors and spike counts or firing rates as responses. Unfortunately, this approach requires knowledge in advance about the relevant features coded by a given population of neurons. For domains as complex as social interaction or natural movement, however, the relevant feature space is poorly understood, and an arbitrary a priori choice of features may give rise to confirmation bias. Here, we present a Bayesian model for exploratory data analysis that is capable of automatically identifying the features present in unstructured stimuli based solely on neuronal responses. Our approach is unique within the class of latent state space models of neural activity in that it assumes that firing rates of neurons are sensitive to multiple discrete time-varying features tied to the stimulus, each of which has Markov (or semi-Markov) dynamics. That is, we are modeling neural activity as driven by multiple simultaneous stimulus features rather than intrinsic neural dynamics. We derive a fast variational Bayesian inference algorithm and show that it correctly recovers hidden features in synthetic data, as well as ground-truth stimulus features in a prototypical neural dataset. To demonstrate the utility of the algorithm, we also apply it to cluster neural responses and demonstrate successful recovery of features corresponding to monkeys and faces in the image set.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005645

You might also like
Discover & Discuss Important Research

Keeping up-to-date with research can feel impossible, with papers being published faster than you'll ever be able to read them. That's where Researcher comes in: we're simplifying discovery and making important discussions happen. With over 19,000 sources, including peer-reviewed journals, preprints, blogs, universities, podcasts and Live events across 10 research areas, you'll never miss what's important to you. It's like social media, but better. Oh, and we should mention - it's free.

  • Download from Google Play
  • Download from App Store
  • Download from AppInChina

Researcher displays publicly available abstracts and doesn’t host any full article content. If the content is open access, we will direct clicks from the abstracts to the publisher website and display the PDF copy on our platform. Clicks to view the full text will be directed to the publisher website, where only users with subscriptions or access through their institution are able to view the full article.