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Int J Neural Syst. 2018 Oct;28(8):1850008. doi: 10.1142/S0129065718500089. Epub 2018 Feb 22.

Identification of Retinal Ganglion Cell Firing Patterns Using Clustering Analysis Supplied with Failure Diagnosis.

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1 Retinal Circuit Development and Genetics Unit, National Eye Institute, 6 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


An important goal in visual neuroscience is to understand how neuronal population coding in vertebrate retina mediates the broad range of visual functions. Microelectrode arrays interface on isolated retina registers a collective measure of the spiking dynamics of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) by probing them simultaneously and in large numbers. The recorded data stream is then processed to identify spike trains of individual RGCs by efficient and scalable spike detection and sorting routines. Most spike sorting software packages, available either commercially or as freeware, combine automated steps with judgment calls by the investigator to verify the quality of sorted spikes. This work focused on sorting spikes of RGCs into clusters using an integrated analytical platform for the data recorded during visual stimulation of wild-type mice retinas with whole field stimuli. After spike train detection, we projected each spike onto two feature spaces: a parametric space and a principal components space. We then applied clustering algorithms to sort spikes into separate clusters. To eliminate the need for human intervention, the initial clustering results were submitted to diagnostic tests that evaluated the results to detect the sources of failure in cluster assignment. This failure diagnosis formed a decision logic for diagnosable electrodes to enhance the clustering quality iteratively through rerunning the clustering algorithms. The new clustering results showed that the spike sorting accuracy was improved. Subsequently, the number of active RGCs during each whole field stimulation was found, and the light responsiveness of each RGC was identified. Our approach led to error-resilient spike sorting in both feature extraction methods; however, using parametric features led to less erroneous spike sorting compared to principal components, particularly for low signal-to-noise ratios. As our approach is reliable for retinal signal processing in response to simple visual stimuli, it could be applied to the evaluation of disrupted physiological signaling in retinal neurodegenerative diseases.


Microelectrode array; clustering routines; failure diagnosis; parametric features; spike sorting

[Available on 2019-10-01]
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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