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J Neurosci Methods. 2011 Mar 15;196(1):201-19. doi: 10.1016/j.jneumeth.2011.01.003. Epub 2011 Jan 12.

Statistical technique for analysing functional connectivity of multiple spike trains.

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School of Computing and Mathematics, University of Plymouth, A222, Portland Square, Plymouth, PL4 8AA, UK.


A new statistical technique, the Cox method, used for analysing functional connectivity of simultaneously recorded multiple spike trains is presented. This method is based on the theory of modulated renewal processes and it estimates a vector of influence strengths from multiple spike trains (called reference trains) to the selected (target) spike train. Selecting another target spike train and repeating the calculation of the influence strengths from the reference spike trains enables researchers to find all functional connections among multiple spike trains. In order to study functional connectivity an "influence function" is identified. This function recognises the specificity of neuronal interactions and reflects the dynamics of postsynaptic potential. In comparison to existing techniques, the Cox method has the following advantages: it does not use bins (binless method); it is applicable to cases where the sample size is small; it is sufficiently sensitive such that it estimates weak influences; it supports the simultaneous analysis of multiple influences; it is able to identify a correct connectivity scheme in difficult cases of "common source" or "indirect" connectivity. The Cox method has been thoroughly tested using multiple sets of data generated by the neural network model of the leaky integrate and fire neurons with a prescribed architecture of connections. The results suggest that this method is highly successful for analysing functional connectivity of simultaneously recorded multiple spike trains.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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