Discovering Precise Temporal Patterns in Large-Scale Neural Recordings through Robust and Interpretable Time Warping

Alex H. Williams, Ben Poole, Niru Maheswaranathan, Ashesh K. Dhawale, Tucker Fisher, Christopher D. Wilson, David H. Brann, Eric M. Trautmann, Stephen Ryu, Roman Shusterman, Dmitry Rinberg, Bence P. Ölveczky, Krishna V. Shenoy, Surya Ganguli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Though the temporal precision of neural computation has been studied intensively, a data-driven determination of this precision remains a fundamental challenge. Reproducible spike patterns may be obscured on single trials by uncontrolled temporal variability in behavior and cognition and may not be time locked to measurable signatures in behavior or local field potentials (LFP). To overcome these challenges, we describe a general-purpose time warping framework that reveals precise spike-time patterns in an unsupervised manner, even when these patterns are decoupled from behavior or are temporally stretched across single trials. We demonstrate this method across diverse systems: cued reaching in nonhuman primates, motor sequence production in rats, and olfaction in mice. This approach flexibly uncovers diverse dynamical firing patterns, including pulsatile responses to behavioral events, LFP-aligned oscillatory spiking, and even unanticipated patterns, such as 7 Hz oscillations in rat motor cortex that are not time locked to measured behaviors or LFP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)246-259.e8
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 22 2020


  • Exploratory Data Analysis
  • Neural Oscillations
  • Population Dynamics
  • Spike Train Analysis
  • Statistics
  • Time Warping
  • Unsupervised Learning
  • Neurons/physiology
  • Microinjections
  • Action Potentials/physiology
  • Rats
  • Male
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Proteins/genetics
  • Gene Knock-In Techniques
  • Motor Cortex/physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Automated/methods
  • Animals
  • Time Factors
  • Amyloid beta-Protein Precursor/genetics
  • Peptide Fragments/genetics
  • Mice
  • Primary Cell Culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Discovering Precise Temporal Patterns in Large-Scale Neural Recordings through Robust and Interpretable Time Warping'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this