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Characterizing signal encoding and transmission in class I and class II neurons via ordinal time-series analysis

AuthorsEstarellas, Cristian; Masoliver, María; Masoller, Cristina; Mirasso, Claudio R.
Issue DateJan-2020
PublisherAmerican Institute of Physics
CitationChaos 30(1): 013123 (2020)
AbstractNeurons encode and transmit information in spike sequences. However, despite the effort devoted to understand the encoding and transmission of information, the mechanisms underlying the neuronal encoding are not yet fully understood. Here, we use a nonlinear method of time-series analysis (known as ordinal analysis) to compare the statistics of spike sequences generated by applying an input signal to the neuronal model of Morris–Lecar. In particular, we consider two different regimes for the neurons which lead to two classes of excitability: class I, where the frequency-current curve is continuous and class II, where the frequency-current curve is discontinuous. By applying ordinal analysis to sequences of inter-spike-intervals (ISIs) our goals are (1) to investigate if different neuron types can generate spike sequences which have similar symbolic properties; (2) to get deeper understanding on the effects that electrical (diffusive) and excitatory chemical (i.e., excitatory synapse) couplings have; and (3) to compare, when a small-amplitude periodic signal is applied to one of the neurons, how the signal features (amplitude and frequency) are encoded and transmitted in the generated ISI sequences for both class I and class II type neurons and electrical or chemical couplings. We find that depending on the frequency, specific combinations of neuron/class and coupling-type allow a more effective encoding, or a more effective transmission of the signal. Sensory neurons detect, encode, and transmit information of external temporal stimuli (input signals such as visual, auditory, olfactory, etc.) in sequences of spikes, also known as action potentials. Despite decades of effort to understand how information is processed, the underlying mechanisms of neuronal encoding are still not fully understood. Different coding mechanisms have been proposed in the literature, which can be more or less effective depending, e.g., on the level of environmental noise or the characteristics of the external input signal. Here, we focus on the encoding of a small-amplitude periodic signal. We use a well-known neuron model to investigate the role of the excitability class of the neurons (either class I or class II) and of the type of coupling (electrical or chemical) to a second neuron that is not subject to an external signal. We find that the neuron can encode the signal in the form of preferred (more expressed) temporal spike patterns, regardless of the class of neuron and of the type of coupling. On the contrary, depending on the signal frequency, specific combinations of neuron-class and coupling-type allow a more effective encoding or a more effective transmission of the signal.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1063/1.5121257
Appears in Collections:(IFISC) Artículos
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