Synchrony-Division Neural Multiplexing: An Encoding Model
Cortical neurons receive mixed information from collective spiking activities of primary sensory neurons in response to a sensory stimulus. A recent study demonstrated that the time underlying the onset-offset of a tactile stimulus and its varying intensity can be respectively represented by synchronous and asynchronous spikes of S1 neurons in rats. This evidence capitalized on the ability of an ensemble of homogeneous neurons to multiplex, a coding strategy that was referred to as synchrony
... ision multiplexing (SDM). Although neural multiplexing can be conceived by distinct functions of individual neurons in a heterogeneous neural ensemble, the extent to which nearly identical neurons in a homogeneous neural ensemble encode multiple features of a mixed stimulus remains unknown. Here, we present a computational framework to provide a system-level understanding of how an ensemble of homogeneous neurons enables SDM. First, we simulate SDM with an ensemble of homogeneous conductance-based model neurons receiving a mixed stimulus comprising slow and fast features. Using feature estimation techniques, we show that both features of the stimulus can be inferred from the generated spikes. Second, we utilize linear nonlinear (LNL) cascade models and calculate temporal filters and static nonlinearities of differentially synchronized spikes. We demonstrate that these filters and nonlinearities are distinct for synchronous and asynchronous spikes. Finally, we develop an augmented LNL cascade model as an encoding model for the SDM by combining individual LNLs calculated for each type of spike. The augmented LNL model reveals that a homogeneous neural ensemble can perform two different functions, namely, temporal- and rate- coding, simultaneously.