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RSS FeedsEntropy, Vol. 20, Pages 879: Assessing the Relevance of Specific Response Features in the Neural Code (Entropy)


15 november 2018 20:00:17

Entropy, Vol. 20, Pages 879: Assessing the Relevance of Specific Response Features in the Neural Code (Entropy)

The study of the neural code aims at deciphering how the nervous system maps external stimuli into neural activity—the encoding phase—and subsequently transforms such activity into adequate responses to the original stimuli—the decoding phase. Several information-theoretical methods have been proposed to assess the relevance of individual response features, as for example, the spike count of a given neuron, or the amount of correlation in the activity of two cells. These methods work under the premise that the relevance of a feature is reflected in the information loss that is induced by eliminating the feature from the response. The alternative methods differ in the procedure by which the tested feature is removed, and the algorithm with which the lost information is calculated. Here we compare these methods, and show that more often than not, each method assigns a different relevance to the tested feature. We demonstrate that the differences are both quantitative and qualitative, and connect them with the method employed to remove the tested feature, as well as the procedure to calculate the lost information. By studying a collection of carefully designed examples, and working on analytic derivations, we identify the conditions under which the relevance of features diagnosed by different methods can be ranked, or sometimes even equated. The condition for equality involves both the amount and the type of information contributed by the tested feature. We conclude that the quest for relevant response features is more delicate than previously thought, and may yield to multiple answers depending on methodological subtleties. Digg Facebook Google StumbleUpon Twitter
34 viewsCategory: Informatics, Physics
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