Qualitative Information Theoretic Essay

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We describe the results of quantitative information theoretic analyses of neural encoding, particularly in the primate visual, olfactory, taste, hippocampal, and orbitofrontal cortex. Most of the information turns out to be encoded by the firing rates of the neurons that is by the number of spikes in a short time window. This has been shown to be a robust code, for the firing rate representations of different neurons are close to independent for small populations of neurons. Moreover, the information can be read fast from such encoding, in as little as 20 ms. In quantitative information theoretic studies, only a little additional information is available in temporal encoding involving stimulus-dependent synchronization of different neurons,…show more content…
Neural coding is a neuroscience-related field concerned with characterizing the relationship between the stimulus and the individual or ensemble neuronal responses and the relationship among the electrical activity of the neurons in the ensemble. Based on the theory that sensory and other information is represented in the brain by networks of neurons, it is thought that neurons can encode both digital and analog information. Neurons can use two kinds of neural codes: rate codes, in which information is encoded only in the average rate of firing; and temporal codes, in which information is encoded not only in the average rate but also in the precise timing of each pulse, with sensitivity down to the submillisecond range. Temporal firing means that firing patterns with the same average rate can encode different messages—a key insight into understanding neural coding. While the distinction between the two neural codes has previously been considered one of degree, a new study has found that neurons change between the two coding regimes abruptly rather than smoothly due to a phase transition separating the two
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