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Publication Detail
Strong information-limiting correlations in early visual areas
  • Publication Type:
    Working discussion paper
  • Authors:
    Montijn J, Liu R, Aschner A, Kohn A, Latham P, Pouget A
  • Publication date:
  • Status:
If the brain processes incoming data efficiently, information should degrade little between early and later neural processing stages, and so information in early stages should match behavioral performance. For instance, if there is enough information in a visual cortical area to determine the orientation of a grating to within 1 degree, and the code is simple enough to be read out by downstream circuits, then animals should be able to achieve that performance behaviourally. Despite over 30 years of research, it is still not known how efficient the brain is. For tasks involving a large number of neurons, the amount of information encoded by neural circuits is limited by differential correlations. Therefore, determining how much information is encoded requires quantifying the strength of differential correlations. Detecting them, however, is difficult. We report here a new method, which requires on the order of 100s of neurons and trials. This method relies on computing the alignment of the neural stimulus encoding direction, f′ , with the eigenvectors of the noise covariance matrix, Σ . In the presence of strong differential correlations, f′ must be spanned by a small number of the eigenvectors with largest eigenvalues. Using simulations with a leaky-integrate-and-fire neuron model of the LGN-V1 circuit, we confirmed that this method can indeed detect differential correlations consistent with those that would limit orientation discrimination thresholds to 0.5-3 degrees. We applied this technique to V1 recordings in awake monkeys and found signatures of differential correlations, consistent with a discrimination threshold of 0.47-1.20 degrees, which is not far from typical discrimination thresholds (1-2 deg). These results suggest that, at least in macaque monkeys, V1 contains about as much information as is seen in behaviour, implying that downstream circuits are efficient at extracting the information available in V1.
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