An Information-Theoretic Approach to Deciphering the Hippocampal Code

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 5 (NIPS 1992)

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William Skaggs, Bruce McNaughton, Katalin Gothard


Information theory is used to derive a simple formula for the amount of information conveyed by the firing rate of a neuron about any experimentally measured variable or combination of variables (e.g. running speed, head direction, location of the animal, etc.). The derivation treats the cell as a communication channel whose input is the measured variable and whose output is the cell's spike train. Applying the formula, we find systematic differences in the information content of hippocampal "place cells" in different ex(cid:173) perimental conditions.