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PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e27380. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0027380. Epub 2011 Nov 8.

Identifying temporal codes in spontaneously active sensory neurons.

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  • 1Neuroscience Program, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio, United States of America.

Abstract

The manner in which information is encoded in neural signals is a major issue in Neuroscience. A common distinction is between rate codes, where information in neural responses is encoded as the number of spikes within a specified time frame (encoding window), and temporal codes, where the position of spikes within the encoding window carries some or all of the information about the stimulus. One test for the existence of a temporal code in neural responses is to add artificial time jitter to each spike in the response, and then assess whether or not information in the response has been degraded. If so, temporal encoding might be inferred, on the assumption that the jitter is small enough to alter the position, but not the number, of spikes within the encoding window. Here, the effects of artificial jitter on various spike train and information metrics were derived analytically, and this theory was validated using data from afferent neurons of the turtle vestibular and paddlefish electrosensory systems, and from model neurons. We demonstrate that the jitter procedure will degrade information content even when coding is known to be entirely by rate. For this and additional reasons, we conclude that the jitter procedure by itself is not sufficient to establish the presence of a temporal code.

PMID:
22087303
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3210806
Free PMC Article

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