- Applying Information Theory to Neuronal Networks: From Theory to Experiments
- Volume | Issue number
- 16 | 11
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS)
Informatics Institute (IVI)
Information-theory is being increasingly used to analyze complex, self-organizing processes on networks, predominantly in analytical and numerical studies. Perhaps one of the most paradigmatic complex systems is a network of neurons, in which cognition arises from the information storage, transfer, and processing among individual neurons. In this article we review experimental techniques suitable for validating information-theoretical predictions in simple neural networks, as well as generating new hypotheses. Specifically, we focus on techniques that may be used to measure both network (microcircuit) anatomy as well as neuronal activity simultaneously. This is needed to study the role of the network structure on the emergent collective dynamics, which is one of the reasons to study the characteristics of information processing. We discuss in detail two suitable techniques, namely calcium imaging and the application of multi-electrode arrays to simple neural networks in culture, and discuss their advantages and limitations in an accessible manner for non-experts. In particular, we show that each technique induces a qualitatively different type of error on the measured mutual information. The ultimate goal of this work is to bridge the gap between theorists and experimentalists in their shared goal of understanding the behavior of networks of neurons.
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