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Universal models for binary spike patterns using centered Dirichlet processes
Il Memming Park · Evan Archer · Kenneth W Latimer · Jonathan W Pillow

Fri Dec 06 07:00 PM -- 11:59 PM (PST) @ Harrah's Special Events Center, 2nd Floor
Probabilistic models for binary spike patterns provide a powerful tool for understanding the statistical dependencies in large-scale neural recordings. Maximum entropy (or "maxent'') models, which seek to explain dependencies in terms of low-order interactions between neurons, have enjoyed remarkable success in modeling such patterns, particularly for small groups of neurons. However, these models are computationally intractable for large populations, and low-order maxent models have been shown to be inadequate for some datasets. To overcome these limitations, we propose a family of "universal'' models for binary spike patterns, where universality refers to the ability to model arbitrary distributions over all $2^m$ binary patterns. We construct universal models using a Dirichlet process centered on a well-behaved parametric base measure, which naturally combines the flexibility of a histogram and the parsimony of a parametric model. We derive computationally efficient inference methods using Bernoulli and cascade-logistic base measures, which scale tractably to large populations. We also establish a condition for equivalence between the cascade-logistic and the 2nd-order maxent or "Ising'' model, making cascade-logistic a reasonable choice for base measure in a universal model. We illustrate the performance of these models using neural data.

Author Information

Il Memming Park (Stony Brook University)
Evan Archer (Sony AI)
Kenneth W Latimer (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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