Inferring spike-timing-dependent plasticity from spike train data

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 24 (NIPS 2011)

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Ian Stevenson, Konrad Koerding


Synaptic plasticity underlies learning and is thus central for development, memory, and recovery from injury. However, it is often difficult to detect changes in synaptic strength in vivo, since intracellular recordings are experimentally challenging. Here we present two methods aimed at inferring changes in the coupling between pairs of neurons from extracellularly recorded spike trains. First, using a generalized bilinear model with Poisson output we estimate time-varying coupling assuming that all changes are spike-timing-dependent. This approach allows model-based estimation of STDP modification functions from pairs of spike trains. Then, using recursive point-process adaptive filtering methods we estimate more general variation in coupling strength over time. Using simulations of neurons undergoing spike-timing dependent modification, we show that the true modification function can be recovered. Using multi-electrode data from motor cortex we then illustrate the use of this technique on in vivo data.