Neurometric function analysis of population codes

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 22 (NIPS 2009)

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Philipp Berens, Sebastian Gerwinn, Alexander Ecker, Matthias Bethge


The relative merits of different population coding schemes have mostly been analyzed in the framework of stimulus reconstruction using Fisher Information. Here, we consider the case of stimulus discrimination in a two alternative forced choice paradigm and compute neurometric functions in terms of the minimal discrimination error and the Jensen-Shannon information to study neural population codes. We first explore the relationship between minimum discrimination error, Jensen-Shannon Information and Fisher Information and show that the discrimination framework is more informative about the coding accuracy than Fisher Information as it defines an error for any pair of possible stimuli. In particular, it includes Fisher Information as a special case. Second, we use the framework to study population codes of angular variables. Specifically, we assess the impact of different noise correlations structures on coding accuracy in long versus short decoding time windows. That is, for long time window we use the common Gaussian noise approximation. To address the case of short time windows we analyze the Ising model with identical noise correlation structure. In this way, we provide a new rigorous framework for assessing the functional consequences of noise correlation structures for the representational accuracy of neural population codes that is in particular applicable to short-time population coding.