Examples of the Investigation of Neural Information Processing by Point Process Analysis

  • David R. Brillinger
  • Alessandro E. P. Villa


The firing of neurons is studied via recorded spike trains. A technique for estimating the summation function, the decay function and the firing probability function of a neuron model, on the basis of recorded output and corresponding input spike trains, is described and illustrated for the neuron L3 of Aplysia californica firing under the influence of the neuron L10. The procedure of employing partial coherences to “remove” the effects of a common stimulation on pairs of neurons is validated by applying the technique to neurons of the cat’s auditory thalam us. In this case, the data were collected for the neurons firing first in a spontaneous fashion and then in response to stimulation. Finally coherences within groups of eight neurons are averaged together on the basis of known anatomy to enhance discernment of patterns. In some cases, significant peaks were found in partial coherences where no signs of association were observed during spontaneous firing. It is concluded that the techniques presented here provide a valuable improvement in detecting associations between neurons which are modulated by a stimulus, but are not necessarily time-locked to its time course.


Point Process Spike Train Reticular Nucleus Spontaneous Firing Firing Time 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Brillinger
    • 1
  • Alessandro E. P. Villa
    • 2
  1. 1.Statistics DepartmentUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA
  2. 2.Institut de PhysiologieUniversité de LausanneSwitzerland

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