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Tatjana Tchumatchenko, Theo Geisel, Maxim Volgushev, and Fred Wolf (2010)

Signatures of synchrony in pairwise count correlations

Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience 4:1.  (export entry)

Concerted neural activity can reflect specific features of sensory stimuli or behavioral tasks. Correlation coefficients and count correlations are frequently used to measure correlations between neurons, design synthetic spike trains and build population models. But are correlation coefficients always a reliable measure of input correlations? Here, we consider a stochastic model for the generation of correlated spike sequences which replicate neuronal pairwise correlations in many important aspects. We investigate under which conditions the correlation coefficients reflect the degree of input synchrony and when they can be used to build population models. We find that correlation coefficients can be a poor indicator of input synchrony for some cases of input correlations. In particular, count correlations computed for large time bins can vanish despite the presence of input correlations. These findings suggest that network models or potential coding schemes of neural population activity need to incorporate temporal properties of correlated inputs and take into consideration the regimes of firing rates and correlation strengths to ensure that their building blocks are an unambiguous measures of synchrony.
DOI: 10.3389/neuro.10.001.2010 ISSN: 1662-5188