Evaluating performance of neural codes in model neural communication networks

Chris G. Antonopoulos (Corresponding Author), Ezequiel B Martinez, Murilo S Baptista

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7 Citations (Scopus)
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Information needs to be appropriately encoded to be reliably transmitted over physical media. Similarly, neurons have their own codes to convey information in the brain. Even though it is well-known that neurons exchange information using a pool of several protocols of spatio-temporal encodings, the suitability of each code and their performance as a function of network parameters and external stimuli is still one of the great mysteries in neuroscience. This paper sheds light on this by modeling small-size networks of chemically and electrically coupled Hindmarsh-Rose spiking neurons. We focus on a class of temporal and firing-rate codes that result from neurons’ membrane-potentials and phases, and quantify numerically their performance estimating the Mutual Information Rate, aka the rate of information exchange. Our results suggest that the firing-rate and interspike-intervals codes are more robust to additive Gaussian white noise. In a network of four interconnected neurons and in the absence of such noise, pairs of neurons that have the largest rate of information exchange using the interspike-intervals and firing-rate codes are not adjacent in the network, whereas spike-timings and phase codes (temporal) promote large rate of information exchange for adjacent neurons. If that result would have been possible to extend to larger neural networks, it would suggest that small microcircuits would preferably exchange information using temporal codes (spike-timings and phase codes), whereas on the macroscopic scale, where there would be typically pairs of neurons not directly connected due to the brain’s sparsity, firing-rate and interspike-intervals codes would be the most efficient codes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-102
Number of pages13
JournalNeural Networks
Early online date23 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

This work was performed using the Maxwell high performance and ICSMB computer clusters of the University of Aberdeen. All authors acknowledge financial support
provided by the EPSRC Ref: EP/I032606/1 grant. C. G. A. contributed to this work while working at the University of Aberdeen and then, while working at the University of Essex.


  • information
  • mutual information
  • Mutual Information Rate
  • neuroscience
  • brain
  • neurons
  • external stimuli
  • neural codes
  • Hindmarsh-Rose system
  • neural networks
  • interspike-intervals code
  • firing-rate code


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