Spiking networks for Bayesian inference and choice

Wei Ji Ma, Jeffrey M. Beck, Alexandre Pouget

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Systems neuroscience traditionally conceptualizes a population of spiking neurons as merely encoding the value of a stimulus. Yet, psychophysics has revealed that people take into account stimulus uncertainty when performing sensory or motor computations and do so in a nearly Bayes-optimal way. This suggests that neural populations do not encode just a single value but an entire probability distribution over the stimulus. Several such probabilistic codes have been proposed, including one that utilizes the structure of neural variability to enable simple neural implementations of probabilistic computations such as optimal cue integration. This approach provides a quantitative link between Bayes-optimal behaviors and specific neural operations. It allows for novel ways to evaluate probabilistic codes and for predictions for physiological population recordings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-222
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurobiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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