Abstract

We used a variety of statistical measures to identify the point process that describes the maintained discharge of retinal ganglion cells (RGC’s) and neurons in the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) of the cat. These measures are based on both interevent intervals and event counts and include the interevent-interval histogram, rescaled range analysis, the event-number histogram, the Fano factor, the Allan factor, and the periodogram. In addition, we applied these measures to surrogate versions of the data, generated by random shuffling of the order of interevent intervals. The counting statistics reveal 1/f-type fluctuations in the data (long-duration power-law correlation), which are not present in the shuffled data. Estimates of the fractal exponents measured for RGC- and their target LGN-spike trains are similar in value, indicating that the fractal behavior either is transmitted from one cell to the other or has a common origin. The gamma-r renewal process model, often used in the analysis of visual-neuron interevent intervals, describes certain short-term features of the RGC and LGN data reasonably well but fails to account for the long-duration correlation. We present a new model for visual-system nerve-spike firings: a gamma-r renewal process whose mean is modulated by fractal binomial noise. This fractal, doubly stochastic point process characterizes the statistical behavior of both RGC and LGN data sets remarkably well.

© 1997 Optical Society of America

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