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Neural Computation

October 2010, Vol. 22, No. 10, Pages 2537-2557
(doi: 10.1162/NECO_a_00016)
© 2010 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Recording from Two Neurons: Second-Order Stimulus Reconstruction from Spike Trains and Population Coding

We study the reconstruction of visual stimuli from spike trains, representing the reconstructed stimulus by a Volterra series up to second order. We illustrate this procedure in a prominent example of spiking neurons, recording simultaneously from the two H1 neurons located in the lobula plate of the fly Chrysomya megacephala. The fly views two types of stimuli, corresponding to rotational and translational displacements. Second-order reconstructions require the manipulation of potentially very large matrices, which obstructs the use of this approach when there are many neurons. We avoid the computation and inversion of these matrices using a convenient set of basis functions to expand our variables in. This requires approximating the spike train four-point functions by combinations of two-point functions similar to relations, which would be true for gaussian stochastic processes. In our test case, this approximation does not reduce the quality of the reconstruction. The overall contribution to stimulus reconstruction of the second-order kernels, measured by the mean squared error, is only about 5% of the first-order contribution. Yet at specific stimulus-dependent instants, the addition of second-order kernels represents up to 100% improvement, but only for rotational stimuli. We present a perturbative scheme to facilitate the application of our method to weakly correlated neurons.