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Ann Biomed Eng. 2009 Aug;37(8):1654-67. doi: 10.1007/s10439-009-9736-8. Epub 2009 Jun 11.

Boolean modeling of neural systems with point-process inputs and outputs. Part I: theory and simulations.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Southern California, 1042 Downey Way, DRB 367, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1111, USA.


This paper presents a new modeling approach for neural systems with point-process (spike) inputs and outputs that utilizes Boolean operators (i.e. modulo 2 multiplication and addition that correspond to the logical AND and OR operations respectively, as well as the AND_NOT logical operation representing inhibitory effects). The form of the employed mathematical models is akin to a "Boolean-Volterra" model that contains the product terms of all relevant input lags in a hierarchical order, where terms of order higher than first represent nonlinear interactions among the various lagged values of each input point-process or among lagged values of various inputs (if multiple inputs exist) as they reflect on the output. The coefficients of this Boolean-Volterra model are also binary variables that indicate the presence or absence of the respective term in each specific model/system. Simulations are used to explore the properties of such models and the feasibility of their accurate estimation from short data-records in the presence of noise (i.e. spurious spikes). The results demonstrate the feasibility of obtaining reliable estimates of such models, with excitatory and inhibitory terms, in the presence of considerable noise (spurious spikes) in the outputs and/or the inputs in a computationally efficient manner. A pilot application of this approach to an actual neural system is presented in the companion paper (Part II).

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