A semiparametric bayesian model for detecting synchrony among multiple neurons

Babak Shahbaba, Bo Zhou, Shiwei Lan, Hernando Ombao, David Moorman, Sam Behseta

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We propose a scalable semiparametric Bayesian model to capture dependencies among multiple neurons by detecting their cofiring (possibly with some lag time) patterns over time. After discretizing time so there is at most one spike at each interval, the resulting sequence of 1s (spike) and 0s (silence) for each neuron is modeled using the logistic function of a continuous latent variable with a gaussian process prior. For multiple neurons, the corresponding marginal distributions are coupled to their joint probability distribution using a parametric copula model. The advantages of our approach are as follows. The nonparametric component (i.e., the gaussian process model) provides a flexible framework for modeling the underlying firing rates, and the parametric component (i.e., the copula model) allows us to make inferences regarding both contemporaneous and lagged relationships among neurons. Using the copula model, we construct multivariate probabilistic models by separating the modeling of univariatemarginal distributions from the modeling of a dependence structure among variables. Our method is easy to implement using a computationally efficient sampling algorithm that can be easily extended to high-dimensional problems. Using simulated data, we show that our approach could correctly capture temporal dependencies in firing rates and identify synchronous neurons. We also apply our model to spike train data obtained from prefrontal cortical areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2025-2051
Number of pages27
JournalNeural Computation
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 13 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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