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The stochastic nature of neuronal response has lead to conjectures about the impact of input fluctuations on the neural coding. For the most part, low pass membrane integration and spike threshold dynamics have been the primary features assumed in the transfer from synaptic input to output spiking. Phasic neurons are a common, but understudied, neuron class that are characterized by a subthreshold negative feedback that suppresses spike train responses to low frequency signals. Past work has shown that when a low frequency signal is accompanied by moderate intensity broadband noise, phasic neurons spike trains are well locked to the signal. We extend these results with a simple, reduced model of phasic activity that demonstrates that a non-Markovian spike train structure caused by the negative feedback produces a noise-enhanced coding. Further, this enhancement is sensitive to the timescales, as opposed to the intensity, of a driving signal. Reduced hazard function models show that noise-enhanced phasic codes are both novel and separate from classical stochastic resonance reported in non-phasic neurons. The general features of our theory suggest that noise-enhanced codes in excitable systems with subthreshold negative feedback are a particularly rich framework to study.
© 2017 Ly, Doiron. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
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VCU Statistical Sciences and Operations Research Publications