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Spectral methods for neural characterization using generalized quadratic models
Il Memming Park · Evan Archer · Nicholas Priebe · Jonathan W Pillow

Thu Dec 05 07:00 PM -- 11:59 PM (PST) @ Harrah's Special Events Center, 2nd Floor

We describe a set of fast, tractable methods for characterizing neural responses to high-dimensional sensory stimuli using a model we refer to as the generalized quadratic model (GQM). The GQM consists of a low-rank quadratic form followed by a point nonlinearity and exponential-family noise. The quadratic form characterizes the neuron's stimulus selectivity in terms of a set linear receptive fields followed by a quadratic combination rule, and the invertible nonlinearity maps this output to the desired response range. Special cases of the GQM include the 2nd-order Volterra model (Marmarelis and Marmarelis 1978, Koh and Powers 1985) and the elliptical Linear-Nonlinear-Poisson model (Park and Pillow 2011). Here we show that for "canonical form" GQMs, spectral decomposition of the first two response-weighted moments yields approximate maximum-likelihood estimators via a quantity called the expected log-likelihood. The resulting theory generalizes moment-based estimators such as the spike-triggered covariance, and, in the Gaussian noise case, provides closed-form estimators under a large class of non-Gaussian stimulus distributions. We show that these estimators are fast and provide highly accurate estimates with far lower computational cost than full maximum likelihood. Moreover, the GQM provides a natural framework for combining multi-dimensional stimulus sensitivity and spike-history dependencies within a single model. We show applications to both analog and spiking data using intracellular recordings of V1 membrane potential and extracellular recordings of retinal spike trains.

Author Information

Il Memming Park (Stony Brook University)
Evan Archer (Sony AI)
Nicholas Priebe (UT Austin)
Jonathan W Pillow (UT Austin)

Jonathan Pillow is an assistant professor in Psychology and Neurobiology at the University of Texas at Austin. He graduated from the University of Arizona in 1997 with a degree in mathematics and philosophy, and was a U.S. Fulbright fellow in Morocco in 1998. He received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from NYU in 2005, and was a Royal Society postdoctoral reserach fellow at the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit, UCL from 2005 to 2008. His recent work involves statistical methods for understanding the neural code in single neurons and neural populations, and his lab conducts psychophysical experiments designed to test Bayesian models of human sensory perception.

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