, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 169-186,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 10 Mar 2013

A new method to infer higher-order spike correlations from membrane potentials


What is the role of higher-order spike correlations for neuronal information processing? Common data analysis methods to address this question are devised for the application to spike recordings from multiple single neurons. Here, we present a new method which evaluates the subthreshold membrane potential fluctuations of one neuron, and infers higher-order correlations among the neurons that constitute its presynaptic population. This has two important advantages: Very large populations of up to several thousands of neurons can be studied, and the spike sorting is obsolete. Moreover, this new approach truly emphasizes the functional aspects of higher-order statistics, since we infer exactly those correlations which are seen by a neuron. Our approach is to represent the subthreshold membrane potential fluctuations as presynaptic activity filtered with a fixed kernel, as it would be the case for a leaky integrator neuron model. This allows us to adapt the recently proposed method CuBIC (cumulant based inference of higher-order correlations from the population spike count; Staude et al., J Comput Neurosci 29(1–2):327–350, 2010c) with which the maximal order of correlation can be inferred. By numerical simulation we show that our new method is reasonably sensitive to weak higher-order correlations, and that only short stretches of membrane potential are required for their reliable inference. Finally, we demonstrate its remarkable robustness against violations of the simplifying assumptions made for its construction, and discuss how it can be employed to analyze in vivo intracellular recordings of membrane potentials.

Action Editor: Alain Destexhe