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Quantifying how much sensory information in a neural code is relevant for behavior
Giuseppe Pica · Eugenio Piasini · Houman Safaai · Caroline Runyan · Christopher Harvey · Mathew Diamond · Christoph Kayser · Tommaso Fellin · Stefano Panzeri

Wed Dec 06 06:30 PM -- 10:30 PM (PST) @ Pacific Ballroom #148 #None
Determining how much of the sensory information carried by a neural code contributes to behavioral performance is key to understand sensory function and neural information flow. However, there are as yet no analytical tools to compute this information that lies at the intersection between sensory coding and behavioral readout. Here we develop a novel measure, termed the information-theoretic intersection information $\III(S;R;C)$, that quantifies how much of the sensory information carried by a neural response $R$ is used for behavior during perceptual discrimination tasks. Building on the Partial Information Decomposition framework, we define $\III(S;R;C)$ as the part of the mutual information between the stimulus $S$ and the response $R$ that also informs the consequent behavioral choice $C$. We compute $\III(S;R;C)$ in the analysis of two experimental cortical datasets, to show how this measure can be used to compare quantitatively the contributions of spike timing and spike rates to task performance, and to identify brain areas or neural populations that specifically transform sensory information into choice.

Author Information

Giuseppe Pica (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia)
Eugenio Piasini (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia)
Houman Safaai (Harvard Medical School)
Caroline Runyan (University of Pittsburgh)
Christopher Harvey (Harvard Medical School)
Mathew Diamond (International School for Advanced Studies)
Christoph Kayser (University of Glasgow)
Tommaso Fellin (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia)

Tommaso Fellin graduated in Physics at the University of Padova in 1998 studying enzyme kinetics with time-resolved spectroscopy. From 1998 to 2003, as a PhD student in the Dept. of Biomedical Sciences at University of Padova, he investigated the biophysical properties of voltage-gated calcium channels and the functional consequences of mutations in calcium channels linked to human neurological disorders. During his first postdoctoral training period (2003-2004), he integrated electrophysiological and imaging techniques to study neuron-glia communication in brain slices. In 2005 he moved to the Dept. of Neuroscience at University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine as a senior post doctoral researcher and continued his research on neuron-glia interaction. In 2008, he joined the department of Neuroscience and Brain Technologies at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) as a junior team leader. He is currently senior team leader with tenure at the IIT, head of the Optical Approaches to Brain Function Laboratory, and co-head (together with Dr. S. Panzeri) of the Neural Coding Laboratory. He is also recipient of the European Research Council (ERC) consolidator grant NEURO-PATTERNS and co-funder of the start-up SmartMicroOptics. His research activity focuses on the study of cortical microcircuits and on the development of innovative methods to probe their function.

Stefano Panzeri (Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia)

Stefano Panzeri studied Theoretical Physics at the University of Turin and Computational Neuroscience at SISSA, Italy. He held independent Research Fellowships and Faculty jobs at the Universities of Oxford, Newcastle, Manchester and Glasgow, and was Visiting Scholar at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics and at Harvard Medical School. He currently works as Senior Scientist at the Italian Institute of Technology, where he directs the Laboratory of Neural Computation. His research investigates how circuits of neurons encode and transmit information.

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