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Front. Integr. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnint.2018.00056

Population coding and correlated variability in electrosensory pathways

  • 1Department of Physiology, McGill University, Canada

The fact that perception and behavior depend on the simultaneous and coordinated activity of neural populations is well established. Understanding encoding through neuronal population activity is however complicated by the statistical dependencies between the activities of neurons, which can be present in terms of both their mean (signal correlations) and their response variability (noise correlations). Here, we review the state of knowledge regarding population coding and the influence of correlated variability in the electrosensory pathways of the weakly electric fish Apteronotus leptorhynchus. We summarize known population coding strategies at the peripheral level, which are largely unaffected by noise correlations. We then move on to the hindbrain, where existing data from the electrosensory lateral line lobe (ELL) shows the presence of noise correlations. We summarize the current knowledge regarding the mechanistic origins of noise correlations and known mechanisms of stimulus dependent correlation shaping in ELL. We finish by considering future directions for understanding population coding in the electrosensory pathways of weakly electric fish, highlighting the benefits of this model system for understanding the origins and impact of noise correlations on population coding.

Keywords: population coding, correlated variability, noise correlation, stimulus encoding, Feedback, Electric Fish, correlation shaping, electrosensory lateral line lobe

Received: 13 Sep 2018; Accepted: 30 Oct 2018.

Edited by:

Pedro E. Maldonado, Universidad de Chile, Chile

Reviewed by:

Luis Lemus, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico
Jose L. Pena, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Hofmann and Chacron. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Volker Hofmann, McGill University, Department of Physiology, Montreal, 33501, Canada, volker.hofmann@mail.mcgill.ca