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7 Janelia Publications

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    06/26/19 | High-dimensional geometry of population responses in visual cortex.
    Stringer C, Pachitariu M, Steinmetz NA, Carandini M, Harris KD
    Nature. 2019 Jun 26;571(7765):361-65. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1346-5

    A neuronal population encodes information most efficiently when its activity is uncorrelated and high-dimensional, and most robustly when its activity is correlated and lower-dimensional. Here, we analyzed the correlation structure of natural image coding, in large visual cortical populations recorded from awake mice. Evoked population activity was high dimensional, with correlations obeying an unexpected power-law: the n-th principal component variance scaled as 1/n. This was not inherited from the 1/f spectrum of natural images, because it persisted after stimulus whitening. We proved mathematically that the variance spectrum must decay at least this fast if a population code is smooth, i.e. if small changes in input cannot dominate population activity. The theory also predicts larger power-law exponents for lower-dimensional stimulus ensembles, which we validated experimentally. These results suggest that coding smoothness represents a fundamental constraint governing correlations in neural population codes.

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    04/19/19 | Spontaneous behaviors drive multidimensional, brain-wide population activity.
    Stringer C, Pachitariu M, Steinmetz NA, Reddy CB, Carandini M, Harris KD
    Science. 2019 Apr 18;364(6437):255. doi: 10.1101/306019

    Sensory cortices are active in the absence of external sensory stimuli. To understand the nature of this ongoing activity, we used two-photon calcium imaging to record from over 10,000 neurons in the visual cortex of mice awake in darkness while monitoring their behavior videographically. Ongoing population activity was multidimensional, exhibiting at least 100 significant dimensions, some of which were related to the spontaneous behaviors of the mice. The largest single dimension was correlated with the running speed and pupil area, while a 16-dimensional summary of orofacial behaviors could predict ~45% of the explainable neural variance. Electrophysiological recordings with 8 simultaneous Neuropixels probes revealed a similar encoding of high-dimensional orofacial behaviors across multiple forebrain regions. Representation of motor variables continued uninterrupted during visual stimulus presentation, occupying dimensions nearly orthogonal to the stimulus responses. Our results show that a multidimensional representation of motor state is encoded across the forebrain, and is integrated with visual input by neuronal populations in primary visual cortex.

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    04/04/19 | Thirst regulates motivated behavior through modulation of brainwide neural population dynamics.
    Allen WE, Chen MZ, Pichamoorthy N, Tien RH, Pachitariu M, Luo L, Deisseroth K
    Science. 2019 Apr 04;364(6437):253. doi: 10.1126/science.aav3932

    Physiological needs produce motivational drives, such as thirst and hunger, that regulate behaviors essential to survival. Hypothalamic neurons sense these needs and must coordinate relevant brainwide neuronal activity to produce the appropriate behavior. We studied dynamics from ~24,000 neurons in 34 brain regions during thirst-motivated choice behavior, as mice consumed water and became sated. Water-predicting sensory cues elicited activity that rapidly spread throughout the brain of thirsty animals. These dynamics were gated by a brainwide mode of population activity that encoded motivational state. Focal optogenetic activation of hypothalamic thirst-sensing neurons, after satiation, returned global activity to the pre-satiation state. Thus, motivational states specify initial conditions determining how a brainwide dynamical system transforms sensory input into behavioral output.

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    04/01/19 | Computational processing of neural recordings from calcium imaging data.
    Stringer C, Pachitariu M
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 2019 Apr ;55:22-31. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2018.11.005

    Electrophysiology has long been the workhorse of neuroscience, allowing scientists to record with millisecond precision the action potentials generated by neurons in vivo. Recently, calcium imaging of fluorescent indicators has emerged as a powerful alternative. This technique has its own strengths and weaknesses and unique data processing problems and interpretation confounds. Here we review the computational methods that convert raw calcium movies to estimates of single neuron spike times with minimal human supervision. By computationally addressing the weaknesses of calcium imaging, these methods hold the promise of significantly improving data quality. We also introduce a new metric to evaluate the output of these processing pipelines, which is based on the cluster isolation distance routinely used in electrophysiology.

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    08/06/18 | Robustness of spike deconvolution for neuronal calcium imaging.
    Pachitariu M, Stringer C, Harris KD
    The Journal of Neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2018 Aug 06;38(37):7976-85. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3339-17.2018

    Calcium imaging is a powerful method to record the activity of neural populations in many species, but inferring spike times from calcium signals is a challenging problem. We compared multiple approaches using multiple datasets with ground truth electrophysiology, and found that simple non-negative deconvolution (NND) outperformed all other algorithms on out-of-sample test data. We introduce a novel benchmark applicable to recordings without electrophysiological ground truth, based on the correlation of responses to two stimulus repeats, and used this to show that unconstrained NND also outperformed the other algorithms when run on "zoomed out" datasets of ∼10,000 cell recordings from the visual cortex of mice of either sex. Finally, we show that NND-based methods match the performance of a supervised method based on convolutional neural networks, while avoiding some of the biases of such methods, and at much faster running times. We therefore recommend that spikes be inferred from calcium traces using simple NND, due to its simplicity, efficiency and accuracy.The experimental method that currently allows for recordings of the largest numbers of cells simultaneously is two-photon calcium imaging. However, use of this powerful method requires that neuronal firing times be inferred correctly from the large resulting datasets. Previous studies have claimed that complex supervised learning algorithms outperform simple deconvolution methods at this task. Unfortunately, these studies suffered from several problems and biases. When we repeated the analysis, using the same data and correcting these problems, we found that simpler spike inference methods perform better. Even more importantly, we found that supervised learning methods can introduce artifactual structure into spike trains, that can in turn lead to erroneous scientific conclusions. Of the algorithms we evaluated, we found that an extremely simple method performed best in all circumstances tested, was much faster to run, and was insensitive to parameter choices, making incorrect scientific conclusions much less likely.

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    05/21/18 | Community-based benchmarking improves spike inference from two-photon calcium imaging data.
    Berens P, Freeman J, Deneux T, Chenkov N, McColgan T, Speiser A, Macke JH, Turaga SC, Mineault P, Rupprecht P, Gerhard S, Friedrich RW, Friedrich J, Paninski L, Pachitariu M, Harris KD, Bolte B, Machado TA, Ringach D, etal
    PLoS Computational Biology. 2018 May 21;14(5):e1006157. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1006157

    In recent years, two-photon calcium imaging has become a standard tool to probe the function of neural circuits and to study computations in neuronal populations. However, the acquired signal is only an indirect measurement of neural activity due to the comparatively slow dynamics of fluorescent calcium indicators. Different algorithms for estimating spike rates from noisy calcium measurements have been proposed in the past, but it is an open question how far performance can be improved. Here, we report the results of the spikefinder challenge, launched to catalyze the development of new spike rate inference algorithms through crowd-sourcing. We present ten of the submitted algorithms which show improved performance compared to previously evaluated methods. Interestingly, the top-performing algorithms are based on a wide range of principles from deep neural networks to generative models, yet provide highly correlated estimates of the neural activity. The competition shows that benchmark challenges can drive algorithmic developments in neuroscience.

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    11/08/17 | Fully integrated silicon probes for high-density recording of neural activity.
    Jun JJ, Steinmetz NA, Siegle JH, Denman DJ, Bauza M, Barbarits B, Lee AK, Anastassiou CA, Andrei A, Aydın Ç, Barbic M, Blanche TJ, Bonin V, Couto J, Dutta B, Gratiy SL, Gutnisky DA, Häusser M, Karsh B, Ledochowitsch P, Lopez CM, Mitelut C, Musa S, Okun M, Pachitariu M, Putzeys J, Rich PD, Rossant C, Sun W, Svoboda K, Carandini M, Harris KD, Koch C, O'Keefe J, Harris TD
    Nature. 2017 Nov 08;551(7679):232-236. doi: 10.1038/nature24636

    Sensory, motor and cognitive operations involve the coordinated action of large neuronal populations across multiple brain regions in both superficial and deep structures. Existing extracellular probes record neural activity with excellent spatial and temporal (sub-millisecond) resolution, but from only a few dozen neurons per shank. Optical Ca(2+) imaging offers more coverage but lacks the temporal resolution needed to distinguish individual spikes reliably and does not measure local field potentials. Until now, no technology compatible with use in unrestrained animals has combined high spatiotemporal resolution with large volume coverage. Here we design, fabricate and test a new silicon probe known as Neuropixels to meet this need. Each probe has 384 recording channels that can programmably address 960 complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) processing-compatible low-impedance TiN sites that tile a single 10-mm long, 70 × 20-μm cross-section shank. The 6 × 9-mm probe base is fabricated with the shank on a single chip. Voltage signals are filtered, amplified, multiplexed and digitized on the base, allowing the direct transmission of noise-free digital data from the probe. The combination of dense recording sites and high channel count yielded well-isolated spiking activity from hundreds of neurons per probe implanted in mice and rats. Using two probes, more than 700 well-isolated single neurons were recorded simultaneously from five brain structures in an awake mouse. The fully integrated functionality and small size of Neuropixels probes allowed large populations of neurons from several brain structures to be recorded in freely moving animals. This combination of high-performance electrode technology and scalable chip fabrication methods opens a path towards recording of brain-wide neural activity during behaviour.

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