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Neural Computation

May 1, 2003, Vol. 15, No. 5, Pages 965-991
(doi: 10.1162/089976603765202622)
© 2003 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Estimating a State-Space Model from Point Process Observations
Article PDF (2.24 MB)

A widely used signal processing paradigm is the state-space model. The state-space model is defined by two equations: an observation equation that describes how the hidden state or latent process is observed and a state equation that defines the evolution of the process through time. Inspired by neurophysiology experiments in which neural spiking activity is induced by an implicit (latent) stimulus, we develop an algorithm to estimate a state-space model observed through point process measurements. We represent the latent process modulating the neural spiking activity as a gaussian autoregressive model driven by an external stimulus. Given the latent process, neural spiking activity is characterized as a general point process defined by its conditional intensity function. We develop an approximate expectation-maximization (EM) algorithm to estimate the unobservable state-space process, its parameters, and the parameters of the point process. The EM algorithm combines a point process recursive nonlinear filter algorithm, the fixed interval smoothing algorithm, and the state-space covariance algorithm to compute the complete data log likelihood efficiently. We use a Kolmogorov-Smirnov test based on the time-rescaling theorem to evaluate agreement between the model and point process data. We illustrate the model with two simulated data examples: an ensemble of Poisson neurons driven by a common stimulus and a single neuron whose conditional intensity function is approximated as a local Bernoulli process.