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PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e19884. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0019884. Epub 2011 Jul 20.

Fast, scalable, Bayesian spike identification for multi-electrode arrays.

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  • 1Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America.


We present an algorithm to identify individual neural spikes observed on high-density multi-electrode arrays (MEAs). Our method can distinguish large numbers of distinct neural units, even when spikes overlap, and accounts for intrinsic variability of spikes from each unit. As MEAs grow larger, it is important to find spike-identification methods that are scalable, that is, the computational cost of spike fitting should scale well with the number of units observed. Our algorithm accomplishes this goal, and is fast, because it exploits the spatial locality of each unit and the basic biophysics of extracellular signal propagation. Human interaction plays a key role in our method; but effort is minimized and streamlined via a graphical interface. We illustrate our method on data from guinea pig retinal ganglion cells and document its performance on simulated data consisting of spikes added to experimentally measured background noise. We present several tests demonstrating that the algorithm is highly accurate: it exhibits low error rates on fits to synthetic data, low refractory violation rates, good receptive field coverage, and consistency across users.

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