Statistical analysis of multi-cell recordings: linking population coding models to experimental data


Modern recording techniques such as multi-electrode arrays and two-photon imaging methods are capable of simultaneously monitoring the activity of large neuronal ensembles at single cell resolution. These methods finally give us the means to address some of the most crucial questions in systems neuroscience: what are the dynamics of neural population activity? How do populations of neurons perform computations? What is the functional organization of neural ensembles? While the wealth of new experimental data generated by these techniques provides exciting opportunities to test ideas about how neural ensembles operate, it also provides major challenges: multi-cell recordings necessarily yield data which is high-dimensional in nature. Understanding this kind of data requires powerful statistical techniques for capturing the structure of the neural population responses, as well as their relationship with external stimuli or behavioral observations. Furthermore, linking recorded neural population activity to the predictions of theoretical models of population coding has turned out not to be straightforward.These challenges motivated us to organize a workshop at the 2009 Computational Neuroscience Meeting in Berlin to discuss these issues. In order to collect some of the recent progress in this field, and to foster discussion on the most important directions and most pressing questions, we issued a call for papers for this Research Topic. We asked authors to address the following four questions:

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.