Original Papers

Biological Cybernetics

, Volume 73, Issue 5, pp 457-465

First online:

On the comparison of Feller and Ornstein-Uhlenbeck models for neural activity

  • Petr LánskýAffiliated withInstitute of Physiology and Center for Theoretical Study, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
  • , Laura SacerdoteAffiliated withDipartimento di Matematica, Universitá di Torino
  • , Francesca TomassettiAffiliated withDipartimento di Matematica e Applicazioni, Universitá di Napoli

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Diffusion processes have been extensively used to describe membrane potential behavior. In this approach the interspike interval has a theoretical counterpart in the first-passage-time of the diffusion model employed. Since the mathematical complexity of the first-passage-time problem increases with attempts to make the models more realistic it seems useful to compare the features of different models in order to highlight their relative performance. In this paper we compare the Feller and Ornstein-Uhlenbeck models under three different criteria derived from the level of information available about their parameters. We conclude that the Feller model is preferable when complete knowledge of the characterizing parameters is assumed. On the other hand, when only limited information about the parameters is available, such as the mean firing time and the histogram shape, no advantage arises from using this more complex model.