Single-trial estimation of stimulus and spike-history effects on time-varying ensemble spiking activity of multiple neurons: a simulation study Machine Learning

Neurons in cortical circuits exhibit coordinated spiking activity, and can produce correlated synchronous spikes during behavior and cognition. We recently developed a method for estimating the dynamics of correlated ensemble activity by combining a model of simultaneous neuronal interactions (e.g., a spin-glass model) with a state-space method (Shimazaki et al. 2012 PLoS Comput Biol 8 e1002385). This method allows us to estimate stimulus-evoked dynamics of neuronal interactions which is reproducible in repeated trials under identical experimental conditions. However, the method may not be suitable for detecting stimulus responses if the neuronal dynamics exhibits significant variability across trials. In addition, the previous model does not include effects of past spiking activity of the neurons on the current state of ensemble activity. In this study, we develop a parametric method for simultaneously estimating the stimulus and spike-history effects on the ensemble activity from single-trial data even if the neurons exhibit dynamics that is largely unrelated to these effects. For this goal, we model ensemble neuronal activity as a latent process and include the stimulus and spike-history effects as exogenous inputs to the latent process. We develop an expectation-maximization algorithm that simultaneously achieves estimation of the latent process, stimulus responses, and spike-history effects. The proposed method is useful to analyze an interaction of internal cortical states and sensory evoked activity.

Bank of Japan policymakers fretted over stimulus side effects at June meeting

The Japan Times

Bank of Japan policymakers said it was necessary to monitor the negative economic impact of continuing monetary stimulus amid stubbornly weak inflation, minutes of their June meeting showed Friday. The minutes suggest members of the central bank's Policy Board recognized a need to make policy more flexible, setting the stage for their decision earlier this week to allow long-term yields to rise higher and tweak the bank's asset purchases. Many board members pointed out that it was "important to continue to conduct a multifaceted monitoring and assessment of the positive effects and side effects that could arise from the continuation of powerful monetary easing" at the meeting held on June 14 and 15. One person said the BOJ should make sure its policy does not cause "severe distortions" to economic and financial conditions, while another said that it was necessary to "consider the possible countermeasures against the side effects before they materialized." The minutes are released after approval by board members at the following policy meeting and do not attribute comments to individual speakers.

Nocebo effects can make you feel pain


The mysterious phenomenon known as the nocebo effect describes negative expectancies. This is in contrast to positive expectancies that trigger placebo effects (1). In evolutionary terms, nocebo and placebo effects coexist to favor perceptual mechanisms that anticipate threat and dangerous events (nocebo effects) and promote appetitive and safety behaviors (placebo effects). In randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials, patients that receive placebos often report side effects (nocebos) that are similar to those experienced by patients that receive the investigational treatment (2). Information provided during the informed consent process and divulgence of adverse effects contribute to nocebo effects in clinical trials (1).

Accounting for network effects in neuronal responses using L1 regularized point process models

Neural Information Processing Systems

Activity of a neuron, even in the early sensory areas, is not simply a function of its local receptive field or tuning properties, but depends on global context of the stimulus, as well as the neural context. This suggests the activity of the surrounding neurons and global brain states can exert considerable influence on the activity of a neuron. In this paper we implemented an L1 regularized point process model to assess the contribution of multiple factors to the firing rate of many individual units recorded simultaneously from V1 with a 96-electrode "Utah" array. We found that the spikes of surrounding neurons indeed provide strong predictions of a neuron's response, in addition to the neuron's receptive field transfer function. We also found that the same spikes could be accounted for with the local field potentials, a surrogate measure of global network states. This work shows that accounting for network fluctuations can improve estimates of single trial firing rate and stimulus-response transfer functions.

Bank of Japan maintains stimulus as inflation lags behind economic growth

The Japan Times

The Bank of Japan left monetary stimulus unchanged in the final policy meeting of 2017 on Thursday, remaining on cruise control as it waits for a pickup in stubbornly low inflation.