Stochastic models for variability changes in neuronal point processes

  • The thesis deals with the analysis and modeling of point processes emerging from different experiments in neuroscience. In particular, the description and detection of different types of variability changes in point processes is of interest. A non-stationary rate or variance of life times is a well-known problem in the description of point processes like neuronal spike trains and can affect the results of further analyses requiring stationarity. Moreover, non-stationary parameters might also contain important information themselves. The goal of the first part of the thesis is the (further) development of a technique to detect both rate and variance changes that may occur in multiple time scales separately or simultaneously. A two-step procedure building on the multiple filter test (Messer et al., 2014) is used that first tests the null hypothesis of rate homogeneity allowing for an inhomogeneous variance and that estimates change points in the rate if the null hypothesis is rejected. In the second step, the null hypothesis of variance homogeneity is tested and variance change points are estimated. Rate change points are used as input. The main idea is the comparison of estimated variances in adjacent windows of different sizes sliding over the process. To determine the rejection threshold functionals of the Brownian motion are identified as limit processes under the null of variance homogeneity. The non-parametric procedure is not restricted to the case of at most one change point. It is shown in simulation studies that the corresponding test keeps the asymptotic significance level for a wide range of parameters and that the test power is remarkable. The practical applicability of the procedure is underlined by the analysis of neuronal spike trains. Point processes resulting from experiments on bistable perception are analyzed in the second part of the thesis. Visual illusions allowing for than more possible perception lead to unpredictable changes of perception. In the thesis data from (Schmack et al., 2015) are used. A rotating sphere with switching perceived rotation direction was presented to the participants of the study. The stimulus was presented continuously and intermittently, i.e., with short periods of „blank display“ between the presentation periods. There are remarkable differences in the response patterns between the two types of presentation. During continuous presentation the distribution of dominance times, i.e., the intervals of constant perception, is a right-skewed and unimodal distribution with a mean of about five seconds. In contrast, during intermittent presentation one observes very long, stable dominance times of more than one minute interchanging with very short, unstable dominance times of less than five seconds, i.e., an increase of variability. The main goal of the second part is to develop a model for the response patterns to bistable perception that builds a bridge between empirical data analysis and mechanistic modeling. Thus, the model should be able to describe both the response patterns to continuous presentation and to intermittent presentation. Moreover, the model should be fittable to typically short experimental data, and the model should allow for neuronal correlates. Current approaches often use detailed assumptions and large parameter sets, which complicate parameter estimation. First, a Hidden Markov Model is applied. Second, to allow for neuronal correlates, a Hierarchical Brownian Model (HBM) is introduced, where perception is modeled by the competition of two neuronal populations. The activity difference between these two populations is described by a Brownian motion with drift fluctuating between two borders, where each first hitting time causes a perceptual change. To model the response patterns to intermittent presentation a second layer with competing neuronal populations (coding a stable and an unstable state) is assumed. Again, the data are described very well, and the hypothesis that the relative time in the stable state is identical in a group of patients with schizophrenia and a control group is rejected. To sum up, the HBM intends to link empirical data analysis and mechanistic modeling and provides interesting new hypotheses on potential neuronal mechanisms of cognitive phenomena.

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Author:Stefan Albert
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Gaby SchneiderGND, Anton WakolbingerGND
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2018/07/20
Year of first Publication:2018
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2018/07/13
Release Date:2018/07/26
Tag:Brownian motion; Hidden Markov Model; bistable perception; changepoint; point process
Page Number:vi, 262
Institutes:Informatik und Mathematik
Dewey Decimal Classification:0 Informatik, Informationswissenschaft, allgemeine Werke / 00 Informatik, Wissen, Systeme / 004 Datenverarbeitung; Informatik
5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 51 Mathematik / 510 Mathematik
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht