Inferring Stimulus Selectivity from the Spatial Structure of Neural Network Dynamics

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 23 (NIPS 2010)

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Kanaka Rajan, L Abbott, Haim Sompolinsky


How are the spatial patterns of spontaneous and evoked population responses related? We study the impact of connectivity on the spatial pattern of fluctuations in the input-generated response of a neural network, by comparing the distribution of evoked and intrinsically generated activity across the different units. We develop a complementary approach to principal component analysis in which separate high-variance directions are typically derived for each input condition. We analyze subspace angles to compute the difference between the shapes of trajectories corresponding to different network states, and the orientation of the low-dimensional subspaces that driven trajectories occupy within the full space of neuronal activity. In addition to revealing how the spatiotemporal structure of spontaneous activity affects input-evoked responses, these methods can be used to infer input selectivity induced by network dynamics from experimentally accessible measures of spontaneous activity (e.g. from voltage- or calcium-sensitive optical imaging experiments). We conclude that the absence of a detailed spatial map of afferent inputs and cortical connectivity does not limit our ability to design spatially extended stimuli that evoke strong responses.