Differential Covariance: A New Class of Methods to Estimate Sparse Connectivity from Neural Recordings

8 Jun 2017  ·  Tiger W. Lin, Anup Das, Giri P. Krishnan, Maxim Bazhenov, Terrence J. Sejnowski ·

With our ability to record more neurons simultaneously, making sense of these data is a challenge. Functional connectivity is one popular way to study the relationship between multiple neural signals. Correlation-based methods are a set of currently well-used techniques for functional connectivity estimation. However, due to explaining away and unobserved common inputs (Stevenson et al., 2008), they produce spurious connections. The general linear model (GLM), which models spikes trains as Poisson processes (Okatan et al., 2005; Truccolo et al., 2005; Pillow et al., 2008), avoids these confounds. We develop here a new class of methods by using differential signals based on simulated intracellular voltage recordings. It is equivalent to a regularized AR(2) model. We also expand the method to simulated local field potential (LFP) recordings and calcium imaging. In all of our simulated data, the differential covariance-based methods achieved better or similar performance to the GLM method and required fewer data samples. This new class of methods provides alternative ways to analyze neural signals.

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