Information Theory and Neuroscience (bibtex)

by D.H. Johnson and C.J. Rozell

Abstract:

When Shannon developed information theory, he envisioned a systematic way to determine how much "information" could be transmitted over an arbitrary communications channel. While this classic work embraces many of the key aspects of neural communication (e.g., stochastic stimuli and communication signals, multiple-neuron populations, etc.), there are difficulties in applying his concepts meaningfully to neuroscience applications. We describe the classic information theoretic quantities—entropy, mutual information, and capacity—and how they can be used to assess the ultimate fidelity of the neural stimulus representation. We also discuss some of the problems that accompany using and interpreting these quantities in a neuroscience context. We also present an overview of post-Shannon research areas that leverage his work in rate-distortion theory that are extremely relevant to neuroscientists looking to understand the neural code. The presentation is meant to be mostly tutorial in nature, setting the stage for other workshop presentations.

Reference:

Information Theory and NeuroscienceD.H. Johnson and C.J. Rozell. July 2006.

Bibtex Entry:

@Conference{johnson.06, author = {Johnson, D.H. and Rozell, C.J.}, title = {Information Theory and Neuroscience}, booktitle = {Computational Neuroscience Meeting Workshop on Methods of Information Theory in Computational Neuroscience}, year = 2006, address = {Edinburgh, UK}, month = {July}, abstract = {When Shannon developed information theory, he envisioned a systematic way to determine how much "information" could be transmitted over an arbitrary communications channel. While this classic work embraces many of the key aspects of neural communication (e.g., stochastic stimuli and communication signals, multiple-neuron populations, etc.), there are difficulties in applying his concepts meaningfully to neuroscience applications. We describe the classic information theoretic quantities---entropy, mutual information, and capacity---and how they can be used to assess the ultimate fidelity of the neural stimulus representation. We also discuss some of the problems that accompany using and interpreting these quantities in a neuroscience context. We also present an overview of post-Shannon research areas that leverage his work in rate-distortion theory that are extremely relevant to neuroscientists looking to understand the neural code. The presentation is meant to be mostly tutorial in nature, setting the stage for other workshop presentations.} }

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