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2. Noise correlations in the human brain and their impact on pattern classification
- Bejjanki, Vikranth R.; da Silveira, Rava Azeredo; Cohen, Jonathan D.; Turk-Browne, Nicholas B.
- Multivariate decoding methods, such as multivoxel pattern analysis (MVPA), are highly effective at extracting information from brain imaging data. Yet, the precise nature of the information that MVPA draws upon remains controversial. Most current theories emphasize the enhanced sensitivity imparted by aggregating across voxels that have mixed and weak selectivity. However, beyond the selectivity of individual voxels, neural variability is correlated across voxels, and such noise correlations may contribute importantly to accurate decoding. Indeed, a recent computational theory proposed that noise correlations enhance multivariate decoding from heterogeneous neural populations. Here we extend this theory from the scale of neurons to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and show that noise correlations between heterogeneous populations of voxels (i.e., voxels selective for different stimulus variables) contribute to the success of MVPA. Specifically, decoding performance is enhanced when voxels with high vs. low noise correlations (measured during rest or in the background of the task) are selected during classifier training. Conversely, voxels that are strongly selective for one class in a GLM or that receive high classification weights in MVPA tend to exhibit high noise correlations with voxels selective for the other class being discriminated against. Furthermore, we use simulations to show that this is a general property of fMRI data and that selectivity and noise correlations can have distinguishable influences on decoding. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that if there is signal in the data, the resulting above-chance classification accuracy is modulated by the magnitude of noise correlations.
- Issue Date:
- August 2017
3. The Structured `Low Temperature' Phase of the Retinal Population Code
- Ioffe, Mark Lev; Berry II, Michael J.
- Recent advances in experimental techniques have allowed the simultaneous recordings of populations of hundreds of neurons, fostering a debate about the nature of the collective structure of population neural activity. Much of this debate has focused on the empirical findings of a phase transition in the parameter space of maximum entropy models describing the measured neural probability distributions, interpreting this phase transition to indicate a critical tuning of the neural code. Here, we instead focus on the possibility that this is a first-order phase transition which provides evidence that the real neural population is in a `structured', collective state. We show that this collective state is robust to changes in stimulus ensemble and adaptive state. We find that the pattern of pairwise correlations between neurons has a strength that is well within the strongly correlated regime and does not require fine tuning, suggesting that this state is generic for populations of 100+ neurons. We find a clear correspondence between the emergence of a phase transition, and the emergence of attractor-like structure in the inferred energy landscape. A collective state in the neural population, in which neural activity patterns naturally form clusters, provides a consistent interpretation for our results.
- Issue Date: