Monthly
288 pp. per issue
6 x 9, illustrated
ISSN
0899-7667
E-ISSN
1530-888X
2014 Impact factor:
2.21

Neural Computation

October 1, 2004, Vol. 16, No. 10, Pages 2079-2100
(doi: 10.1162/0899766041732459)
© 2004 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Decoding a Temporal Population Code
Article PDF (664.22 KB)
Abstract

Encoding of sensory events in internal states of the brain requires that this information can be decoded by other neural structures. The encoding of sensory events can involve both the spatial organization of neuronal activity and its temporal dynamics. Here we investigate the issue of decoding in the context of a recently proposed encoding scheme: the temporal population code. In this code, the geometric properties of visual stimuli become encoded into the temporal response characteristics of the summed activities of a population of cortical neurons. For its decoding, we evaluate a model based on the structure and dynamics of cortical microcircuits that is proposed for computations on continuous temporal streams: the liquid state machine. Employing the original proposal of the decoding network results in a moderate performance. Our analysis shows that the temporal mixing of subsequent stimuli results in a joint representation that compromises their classification. To overcome this problem, we investigate a number of initialization strategies. Whereas we observe that a deterministically initialized network results in the best performance, we find that in case the network is never reset, that is, it continuously processes the sequence of stimuli, the classification performance is greatly hampered by the mixing of information from past and present stimuli. We conclude that this problem of the mixing of temporally segregated information is not specific to this particular decoding model but relates to a general problem that any circuit that processes continuous streams of temporal information needs to solve. Furthermore, as both the encoding and decoding components of our network have been independently proposed as models of the cerebral cortex, our results suggest that the brain could solve the problem of temporal mixing by applying reset signals at stimulus onset, leading to a temporal segmentation of a continuous input stream.