Sensory Coding, Efficiency
If a neuron’s spikes are highly informative about an ensemble of stimuli, then the generated code is called efficient. The efficient coding hypothesis states that the highest levels of efficiency are reached when the ensemble of stimuli encoded by sensory neurons captures important aspects of an animal’s natural environment. This notion of efficiency has been employed to explain various properties of sensory neurons including their stimulus–response functions, gain, and connectivity. Specifically, research on insect systems has shown that the stimulus–response function of many insect sensory neurons matches behaviorally relevant stimuli, while the neural gain is adjusted to the current stimulus statistics and behavioral state.
To probe the properties of sensory neurons, neurophysiologists present various stimuli (e.g., gratings with different orientations for visual neurons or tones with different frequencies for auditory neurons), while recording the neural...