Exactly solvable statistical physics models for large neuronal populations

16 Oct 2023  ·  Christopher W. Lynn, Qiwei Yu, Rich Pang, William Bialek, Stephanie E. Palmer ·

Maximum entropy methods provide a principled path connecting measurements of neural activity directly to statistical physics models, and this approach has been successful for populations of $N\sim 100$ neurons. As $N$ increases in new experiments, we enter an undersampled regime where we have to choose which observables should be constrained in the maximum entropy construction. The best choice is the one that provides the greatest reduction in entropy, defining a "minimax entropy" principle. This principle becomes tractable if we restrict attention to correlations among pairs of neurons that link together into a tree; we can find the best tree efficiently, and the underlying statistical physics models are exactly solved. We use this approach to analyze experiments on $N\sim 1500$ neurons in the mouse hippocampus, and show that the resulting model captures the distribution of synchronous activity in the network.

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Biological Physics Disordered Systems and Neural Networks Statistical Mechanics Neurons and Cognition