Characteristic Effects of Stochastic Oscillatory Forcing on Neural Firing Statistics: Theory and Application to Paddlefish Electroreceptor Afferents

Bauermeister*, C., Schwalger*, T., Russell, D.F., Neiman, A.B., and Lindner, B.

*PLoS Comp. Biol.* Dec 2013

Stochastic signals with pronounced oscillatory components are frequently encountered in neural systems. Input currents to a neuron in the form of stochastic oscillations could be of exogenous origin, e.g. sensory input or synaptic input from a network rhythm. They shape spike firing statistics in a characteristic way, which we explore theoretically in this report. We consider a perfect integrate-and-fire neuron that is stimulated by a constant base current (to drive regular spontaneous firing), along with Gaussian narrow-band noise (a simple example of stochastic oscillations), and a broadband noise. We derive expressions for the nth-order interval distribution, its variance, and the serial correlation coefficients of the interspike intervals (ISIs) and confirm these analytical results by computer simulations. The theory is then applied to experimental data from electroreceptors of paddlefish, which have two distinct types of internal noisy oscillators, one forcing the other. The theory provides an analytical description of their afferent spiking statistics during spontaneous firing, and replicates a pronounced dependence of ISI serial correlation coefficients on the relative frequency of the driving oscillations, and furthermore allows extraction of certain parameters of the intrinsic oscillators embedded in these electroreceptors.