Definitions for the following terms?

Richard Norman rsnorman at mediaone.net
Wed Jul 11 16:22:22 EST 2001

On 11 Jul 2001 13:41:39 -0700, jonesmat at physiology.wisc.edu (Matt
Jones) wrote:

>Richard  Norman <rsnorman at mediaone.net> wrote in message news:<evfnkt0bqb0v138jg6lil4pvi4s6n7udie at 4ax.com>...
>> On 10 Jul 2001 17:57:48 -0700, jonesmat at physiology.wisc.edu (Matt
>> Jones) wrote:
>> >"Isidore" <isidore at mailandnews.com> wrote in message news:<PoJ27.2$ln3.148 at typhoon.nyu.edu>...
>> >> Hi everyone,
>> >> 
>> >>     I'm a high school student trying to read a neuroscience paper and
>> >> understand it well. There are some keywords listed at the top of the page
>> >> that I'm not exactly clear on. 
>> Thanks, Matt. I knew someone else would come in who really knew
>> something about spike train analysis.  OK, so I was a math major as an
>> undergraduate and in fact took courses on probablilty theory and
>> random processes.  But that was forty years ago!   I do have a lot of
>> experience, though,  trying to get college sophomores and juniors
>> through their first hard-core neuro papers.  And I would never let one
>> start out with spike train analysis (biology students usually have no
>> math background or interest, unfortunately)
>> And, Isidore, I am also interested in what paper you have -- and how
>> and why you got it.  I'll bet this group could help steer you into a
>> good reading program, if you have the time and interest.
>Isidore confided the title of the paper to me by email. 
>I'll let him/her post it here, but suffice it to say it is -not- what
>I would call light-hearted introductory reading material!  It is a
>-very- advanced and mathematical paper. I would be shocked if it was
>actually an assigned paper, but if it was, I'd like to know what the
>rest of the course is like!
>I think it's awesome, by the way, that a high school student is even
>reading a serious research paper, let alone such a hardcore one, and
>is actively seeking additional knowledge about the subject not covered
>in the textbook.  Nice one, Isidore.
>Anyway, I recommended a couple of other works that give a (slightly)
>more gentle introduction, and those I will post here, with brief
>comments, in hopes of stimulating additional discussion here about
>spiketrain analysis, neural coding and (dare I say it) information
>theory. So, anybody with 2 cents, please feel free to pipe up with
>comments or suggestions of your own.
>Konig,  P, A K  Engel  and W Singer  (1996).  "Integrator  or 
>coincidence  detector?  The  role  of  the  cortical  neuron 
>revisited." Trends in Neuroscience 19: 130-137.
>This is very nice review of the issues surrounding "leaky
>integrate-and-fire" devices and such. I found it very readable.
>Shadlen, M N and W T Newsome (1998). "The variable discharge of
>cortical neurons: implications for connectivity, computation, and
>information coding." J Neurosci 18: 3870-96. This is a pretty long
>paper, but it does a pretty good job of laying out a lot of the issues
>surrounding spiketrain analysis, and the kinds of things people
>measure, and how they interpret them. These authors are "rate code"
>guys, and argue very forcefully that spike timing is completely
>Rieke,  F,  D  Warland,  R  de  Ruyter  van  Steveninck  and  W 
>Bialek  (1997).  Spikes:  Exploring  the  neural  code.  Cambridge,
>MA, MIT Press.
>This is a book, not a paper. You -might- be able to get it a local
>university library. It's out now in paperback, and can be ordered from
>the MIT press website or avalon.com. This is by far my favorite work
>on the whole issue of understanding neural coding. Chapters 1 and 2
>give a fantastic description of most of the common methods of
>spiketrain analysis, and much of the rest of the book is devoted to
>exploring the idea that spike timing and patterns convey a huge amount
>of information that is missed if one only examines spike rate. If you
>decide that you actually want to develop a deeper understanding of
>these issues (as opposed to a short term school project or whatever),
>then buy this book and read it. There's a fair bit of math, but most
>of the hard stuff is stashed away in an appendix, while the main body
>of the text is mostly in plain english.
>I also remembered a book chapter by Gabbianni and Koch, I think called
>"spiketrain analysis" or something like that. I can't remember the
>actual reference at the moment but this was a really good one too.
>And  there's a whole book on computational neuroscience by Dayan and
>Abbott. I haven't read it, but have browsed it on the web and it looks
The Rieke et al. book, "Spikes" is certainly a very important start.
I could suggest, also, things like Stevens and Zador, "Neural Coding,
the Enigma of the Brain", Curr Biol 1995 Dec 1;5(12):1370-1 which is
available at

That site also has a useful bibliography for neural coding.

More information about the Neur-sci mailing list

Send comments to us at biosci-help [At] net.bio.net