Optimal Population Coding, Revisited


Cortical circuits perform the computations underlying rapid perceptual decisions within a few dozen milliseconds with each neuron emitting only a few spikes. Under these conditions, the theoretical analysis of neural population codes is challenging, as the most commonly used theoretical tool – Fisher information – can lead to erroneous conclusions about the optimality of different coding schemes. Here we revisit the effect of tuning function width and correlation structure on neural population codes based on ideal observer analysis in both a discrimination and reconstruction task. We show that the optimal tuning function width and the optimal correlation structure in both paradigms strongly depend on the available decoding time in a very similar way. In contrast, population codes optimized for Fisher information do not depend on decoding time and are severely suboptimal when only few spikes are available. In …

Matthias Bethge
Matthias Bethge
Professor for Computational Neuroscience and Machine Learning & Director of the Tübingen AI Center

Matthias Bethge is Professor for Computational Neuroscience and Machine Learning at the University of Tübingen and director of the Tübingen AI Center, a joint center between Tübingen University and MPI for Intelligent Systems that is part of the German AI strategy.