Maximum entropy models as a tool for building precise neural controls

Cristina Savin, Gašper Tkačik

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Neural responses are highly structured, with population activity restricted to a small subset of the astronomical range of possible activity patterns. Characterizing these statistical regularities is important for understanding circuit computation, but challenging in practice. Here we review recent approaches based on the maximum entropy principle used for quantifying collective behavior in neural activity. We highlight recent models that capture population-level statistics of neural data, yielding insights into the organization of the neural code and its biological substrate. Furthermore, the MaxEnt framework provides a general recipe for constructing surrogate ensembles that preserve aspects of the data, but are otherwise maximally unstructured. This idea can be used to generate a hierarchy of controls against which rigorous statistical tests are possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-126
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurobiology
StatePublished - Oct 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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