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J Neurosci Methods. 2004 May 30;135(1-2):107-20.

PSTH-based classification of sensory stimuli using ensembles of single neurons.

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School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, Drexel University, 3141 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


The problem of understanding how ensembles of neurons code for somatosensory information has been defined as a classification problem: given the response of a population of neurons to a set of stimuli, which stimulus generated the response on a single-trial basis? Multivariate statistical techniques such as linear discriminant analysis (LDA) and artificial neural networks (ANNs), and different types of preprocessing stages, such as principal and independent component analysis, have been used to solve this classification problem, with surprisingly small performance differences. Therefore, the goal of this project was to design a new method to maximize computational efficiency rather than classification performance. We developed a peri-stimulus time histogram (PSTH)-based method, which consists of creating a set of templates based on the average neural responses to stimuli and classifying each single trial by assigning it to the stimulus with the 'closest' template in the Euclidean distance sense. The PSTH-based method is computationally more efficient than methods as simple as linear discriminant analysis, performs significantly better than discriminant analyses (linear, quadratic or Mahalanobis) when small binsizes are used (1 ms) and as well as LDA with any other binsize, is optimal among other minimum-distance classifiers and can be optimally applied on raw neural data without a previous stage of dimension reduction. We conclude that the PSTH-based method is an efficient alternative to more sophisticated methods such as LDA and ANNs to study how ensemble of neurons code for discrete sensory stimuli, especially when datasets with many variables are used and when the time resolution of the neural code is one of the factors of interest.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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