Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 24 (NIPS 2011)
Alex K. Susemihl, Ron Meir, Manfred Opper
Bayesian filtering of stochastic stimuli has received a great deal of attention re- cently. It has been applied to describe the way in which biological systems dy- namically represent and make decisions about the environment. There have been no exact results for the error in the biologically plausible setting of inference on point process, however. We present an exact analysis of the evolution of the mean- squared error in a state estimation task using Gaussian-tuned point processes as sensors. This allows us to study the dynamics of the error of an optimal Bayesian decoder, providing insights into the limits obtainable in this task. This is done for Markovian and a class of non-Markovian Gaussian processes. We find that there is an optimal tuning width for which the error is minimized. This leads to a char- acterization of the optimal encoding for the setting as a function of the statistics of the stimulus, providing a mathematically sound primer for an ecological theory of sensory processing.