Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Neurosci. 2014 Nov;17(11):1500-9. doi: 10.1038/nn.3776. Epub 2014 Aug 24.

Dimensionality reduction for large-scale neural recordings.

Author information

Department of Statistics, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.
1] Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. [2] Department of Biomedical Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. [3] Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.


Most sensory, cognitive and motor functions depend on the interactions of many neurons. In recent years, there has been rapid development and increasing use of technologies for recording from large numbers of neurons, either sequentially or simultaneously. A key question is what scientific insight can be gained by studying a population of recorded neurons beyond studying each neuron individually. Here, we examine three important motivations for population studies: single-trial hypotheses requiring statistical power, hypotheses of population response structure and exploratory analyses of large data sets. Many recent studies have adopted dimensionality reduction to analyze these populations and to find features that are not apparent at the level of individual neurons. We describe the dimensionality reduction methods commonly applied to population activity and offer practical advice about selecting methods and interpreting their outputs. This review is intended for experimental and computational researchers who seek to understand the role dimensionality reduction has had and can have in systems neuroscience, and who seek to apply these methods to their own data.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center