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Neuron. 2003 Feb 6;37(3):499-511.

Multineuronal firing patterns in the signal from eye to brain.

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Biological Computation and Theoretical Physics Research Department, Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, Murray Hill, NJ 07974, USA.


Population codes in the brain have generally been characterized by recording responses from one neuron at a time. This approach will miss codes that rely on concerted patterns of action potentials from many cells. Here we analyze visual signaling in populations of ganglion cells recorded from the isolated salamander retina. These neurons tend to fire synchronously far more frequently than expected by chance. We present an efficient algorithm to identify what groups of cells cooperate in this way. Such groups can include up to seven or more neurons and may account for more than 50% of all the spikes recorded from the retina. These firing patterns represent specific messages about the visual stimulus that differ significantly from what one would derive by single-cell analysis.

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