Mixed vine copulas as joint models of spike counts and local field potentials

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 29 (NIPS 2016)

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Arno Onken, Stefano Panzeri


Concurrent measurements of neural activity at multiple scales, sometimes performed with multimodal techniques, become increasingly important for studying brain function. However, statistical methods for their concurrent analysis are currently lacking. Here we introduce such techniques in a framework based on vine copulas with mixed margins to construct multivariate stochastic models. These models can describe detailed mixed interactions between discrete variables such as neural spike counts, and continuous variables such as local field potentials. We propose efficient methods for likelihood calculation, inference, sampling and mutual information estimation within this framework. We test our methods on simulated data and demonstrate applicability on mixed data generated by a biologically realistic neural network. Our methods hold the promise to considerably improve statistical analysis of neural data recorded simultaneously at different scales.