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PLoS Comput Biol. 2017 Oct 11;13(10):e1005792. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005792. eCollection 2017 Oct.

The structured 'low temperature' phase of the retinal population code.

Author information

1
Department of Physics, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America.
2
Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, United States of America.

Abstract

Recent advances in experimental techniques have allowed the simultaneous recordings of populations of hundreds of neurons, fostering a debate about the nature of the collective structure of population neural activity. Much of this debate has focused on the empirical findings of a phase transition in the parameter space of maximum entropy models describing the measured neural probability distributions, interpreting this phase transition to indicate a critical tuning of the neural code. Here, we instead focus on the possibility that this is a first-order phase transition which provides evidence that the real neural population is in a 'structured', collective state. We show that this collective state is robust to changes in stimulus ensemble and adaptive state. We find that the pattern of pairwise correlations between neurons has a strength that is well within the strongly correlated regime and does not require fine tuning, suggesting that this state is generic for populations of 100+ neurons. We find a clear correspondence between the emergence of a phase transition, and the emergence of attractor-like structure in the inferred energy landscape. A collective state in the neural population, in which neural activity patterns naturally form clusters, provides a consistent interpretation for our results.

PMID:
29020014
PMCID:
PMC5654267
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pcbi.1005792
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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