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2.  Information analysis of posterior canal afferents in the turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans 
Brain Research  2011;1434:226-242.
We have used sinusoidal and band limited Gaussian noise stimuli along with information measures to characterize the linear and non-linear responses of morpho-physiologically identified posterior canal (PC) afferents and to examine the relationship between mutual information rate and other physiological parameters Our major findings are: 1) spike generation in most PC afferents is effectively a stochastic renewal process, and spontaneous discharges are fully characterized by their first order statistics; 2) a regular discharge, as measured by normalized coefficient of variation (cv*), reduces intrinsic noise in afferent discharges at frequencies below the mean firing rate; 3) coherence and mutual information rates, calculated from responses to band limited Gaussian noise, are jointly determined by gain and intrinsic noise (discharge regularity), the two major determinants of signal to noise ratio in the afferent response; 4) measures of optimal non-linear encoding were only moderately greater than optimal linear encoding, indicating that linear stimulus encoding is limited primarily by internal noise rather than by non-linearities; 5) a leaky integrate and fire model reproduces these results and supports the suggestion that the combination of high discharge regularity and high discharge rates serves to extend the linear encoding range of afferents to higher frequencies. These results provide a framework for future assessments of afferent encoding of signals generated during natural head movements and for comparison with coding strategies used by other sensory systems.
PMCID: PMC3233658  PMID: 21890114
Turtle; Vestibular; Information; Afferent; Model; Dynamics
3.  Identifying Temporal Codes in Spontaneously Active Sensory Neurons 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27380.
The manner in which information is encoded in neural signals is a major issue in Neuroscience. A common distinction is between rate codes, where information in neural responses is encoded as the number of spikes within a specified time frame (encoding window), and temporal codes, where the position of spikes within the encoding window carries some or all of the information about the stimulus. One test for the existence of a temporal code in neural responses is to add artificial time jitter to each spike in the response, and then assess whether or not information in the response has been degraded. If so, temporal encoding might be inferred, on the assumption that the jitter is small enough to alter the position, but not the number, of spikes within the encoding window. Here, the effects of artificial jitter on various spike train and information metrics were derived analytically, and this theory was validated using data from afferent neurons of the turtle vestibular and paddlefish electrosensory systems, and from model neurons. We demonstrate that the jitter procedure will degrade information content even when coding is known to be entirely by rate. For this and additional reasons, we conclude that the jitter procedure by itself is not sufficient to establish the presence of a temporal code.
PMCID: PMC3210806  PMID: 22087303

Results 1-3 (3)