Analysis of between-trial and within-trial neural spiking dynamics

Gabriela Czanner, Uri T. Eden, Sylvia Wirth, Marianna Yanike, Wendy A. Suzuki, Emery N. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recording single-neuron activity from a specific brain region across multiple trials in response to the same stimulus or execution of the same behavioral task is a common neurophysiology protocol. The raster plots of the spike trains often show strong between-trial and within-trial dynamics, yet the standard analysis of these data with the peristimulus time histogram (PSTH) and ANOVA do not consider between-trial dynamics. By itself, the PSTH does not provide a framework for statistical inference. We present a state-space generalized linear model (SS-GLM) to formulate a point process representation of between-trial and within-trial neural spiking dynamics. Our model has the PSTH as a special case. We provide a framework for model estimation, model selection, goodness-of-fit analysis, and inference. In an analysis of hippocampal neural activity recorded from a monkey performing a location-scene association task, we demonstrate how the SS-GLM may be used to answer frequently posed neurophysiological questions including, What is the nature of the between-trial and within-trial task-specific modulation of the neural spiking activity? How can we characterize learning-related neural dynamics? What are the timescales and characteristics of the neuron's biophysical properties? Our results demonstrate that the SS-GLM is a more informative tool than the PSTH and ANOVA for analysis of multiple trial neural responses and that it provides a quantitative characterization of the between-trial and withintrial neural dynamics readily visible in raster plots, as well as the less apparent fast (1-10 ms), intermediate (11-20 ms), and longer (>20 ms) timescale features of the neuron's biophysical properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2672-2693
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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