Biological Cybernetics

, Volume 95, Issue 5, pp 431–453

Negatively correlated firing: the functional meaning of lateral inhibition within cortical columns


  • Simon Durrant
    • Department of InformaticsSussex University
    • Department of MathematicsHunan Normal University
    • Department of Computer Science and MathematicsWarwick University
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00422-006-0096-2

Cite this article as:
Durrant, S. & Feng, J. Biol Cybern (2006) 95: 431. doi:10.1007/s00422-006-0096-2


Lateral inhibition is a well documented aspect of neural architecture in the main sensory systems. Existing accounts of lateral inhibition focus on its role in sharpening distinctions between inputs that are closely related. However, these accounts fail to explain the functional role of inhibition in cortical columns, such as those in V1, where neurons have similar response properties. In this paper, we outline a model of position tracking using cortical columns of integrate-and-fire and Hodgkin-Huxley-type neurons which respond optimally to a particular location, to show that negatively correlated firing patterns arise from lateral inhibition in cortical columns and that this provides a clear benefit for population coding in terms of stability, accuracy, estimation time and neural resources.


InhibitionPopulation codingCortical columnPosition tracking

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006