Send to

Choose Destination
Front Neuroinform. 2012 Mar 19;6:5. doi: 10.3389/fninf.2012.00005. eCollection 2012.

Spike sorting of heterogeneous neuron types by multimodality-weighted PCA and explicit robust variational Bayes.

Author information

Laboratory for Neural Circuit Theory, RIKEN Brain Science Institute Wako, Japan.


This study introduces a new spike sorting method that classifies spike waveforms from multiunit recordings into spike trains of individual neurons. In particular, we develop a method to sort a spike mixture generated by a heterogeneous neural population. Such a spike sorting has a significant practical value, but was previously difficult. The method combines a feature extraction method, which we may term "multimodality-weighted principal component analysis" (mPCA), and a clustering method by variational Bayes for Student's t mixture model (SVB). The performance of the proposed method was compared with that of other conventional methods for simulated and experimental data sets. We found that the mPCA efficiently extracts highly informative features as clusters clearly separable in a relatively low-dimensional feature space. The SVB was implemented explicitly without relying on Maximum-A-Posterior (MAP) inference for the "degree of freedom" parameters. The explicit SVB is faster than the conventional SVB derived with MAP inference and works more reliably over various data sets that include spiking patterns difficult to sort. For instance, spikes of a single bursting neuron may be separated incorrectly into multiple clusters, whereas those of a sparsely firing neuron tend to be merged into clusters for other neurons. Our method showed significantly improved performance in spike sorting of these "difficult" neurons. A parallelized implementation of the proposed algorithm (EToS version 3) is available as open-source code at


classification; clustering; feature extraction; machine learning; multiunit recording; redundancy; robustness; wavelet transform

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Frontiers Media SA Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center