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Optimized Parallel Coding of Second-Order Stimulus Features by Heterogeneous Neural Populations

Huang, CG; Chacron, MJ; (2016) Optimized Parallel Coding of Second-Order Stimulus Features by Heterogeneous Neural Populations. Journal of Neuroscience , 36 (38) pp. 9859-9872. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1433-16.2016. Green open access

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Abstract

UNLABELLED: Efficient processing of sensory input is essential to ensure an organism's survival in its natural environment. Growing evidence suggests that sensory neurons can optimally encode natural stimuli by ensuring that their tuning opposes stimulus statistics, such that the resulting neuronal response contains equal power at all frequencies (i.e., is "white"). Such temporal decorrelation or whitening has been observed across modalities, but the effects of neural heterogeneities on determining tuning and thus responses to natural stimuli have not been investigated. Here, we investigate how heterogeneities in sensory pyramidal neurons organized in three parallel maps representing the body surface determine responses to second-order electrosensory stimulus features in the weakly electric fish Apteronotus leptorhynchus While some sources of heterogeneities such as ON- and OFF-type responses to first-order did not affect responses to second-order electrosensory stimulus features, other sources of heterogeneity within and across the maps strongly determined responses. We found that these cells effectively performed a fractional differentiation operation on their input with exponents ranging from zero (no differentiation) to 0.4 (strong differentiation). Varying adaptation in a simple model explained these heterogeneities and predicted a strong correlation between fractional differentiation and adaptation. Using natural stimuli, we found that only a small fraction of neurons implemented temporal whitening. Rather, a large fraction of neurons did not perform any significant whitening and thus preserved natural input statistics in their responses. We propose that this information is needed to properly decode optimized information sent in parallel through temporally whitened responses based on context. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: We demonstrate that heterogeneities in the same sensory neuron type can either have no or significant influence on their responses to second-order stimulus features. While an ON- or OFF-type response to first-order stimulus attributes has no significant influence on responses to second-order stimulus features, we found that only a small fraction of sensory neurons optimally encoded natural stimuli through high-pass filtering, thereby implementing temporal whitening. Surprisingly, a large fraction of sensory neurons performed little if no filtering of stimuli, thereby preserving natural stimulus statistics. We hypothesize that this pathway is necessary to properly decode optimized information contained in temporally whitened responses based on context.

Type: Article
Title: Optimized Parallel Coding of Second-Order Stimulus Features by Heterogeneous Neural Populations
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1433-16.2016
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1433-16.2016
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: SK channels, adaptation, electrosensory, envelope, neural coding, weakly electric fish, Action Potentials, Adaptation, Physiological, Analysis of Variance, Animals, Electric Fish, Electric Organ, Electric Stimulation, Female, Male, Models, Neurological, Neural Pathways, Pattern Recognition, Automated, Sensory Receptor Cells
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > The Ear Institute
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10061150
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