Biological Cybernetics

, Volume 97, Issue 4, pp 293–305 | Cite as

Spatiotemporal burst coding for extracting features of spatiotemporally varying stimuli

  • Kazuhisa FujitaEmail author
  • Yoshiki Kashimori
  • Takeshi Kambara
Original Paper


Encoding features of spatiotemporally varying stimuli is quite important for understanding the neural mechanisms of various sensory coding. Temporal coding can encode features of time-varying stimulus, and population coding with temporal coding is adequate for encoding spatiotemporal correlation of stimulus features into spatiotemporal activity of neurons. However, little is known about how spatiotemporal features of stimulus are encoded by spatiotemporal property of neural activity. To address this issue, we propose here a population coding with burst spikes, called here spatiotemporal burst (STB) coding. In STB coding, the temporal variation of stimuli is encoded by the precise onset timing of burst spike, and the spatiotemporal correlation of stimuli is emphasized by one specific aspect of burst firing, or spike packet followed by silent interval. To show concretely the role of STB coding, we study the electrosensory system of a weakly electric fish. Weakly electric fish must perceive the information about an object nearby by analyzing spatiotemporal modulations of electric field around it. On the basis of well-characterized circuitry, we constructed a neural network model of the electrosensory system. Here we show that STB coding encodes well the information of object distance and size by extracting the spatiotemporal correlation of the distorted electric field. The burst activity of electrosensory neurons is also affected by feedback signals through synaptic plasticity. We show that the control of burst activity caused by the synaptic plasticity leads to extracting the stimulus features depending on the stimulus context. Our results suggest that sensory systems use burst spikes as a unit of sensory coding in order to extract spatiotemporal features of stimuli from spatially distributed stimuli.


Spatiotemporal burst coding Synaptic plasticity Electrosensory system 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kazuhisa Fujita
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yoshiki Kashimori
    • 1
    • 2
  • Takeshi Kambara
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Information Network Science, Graduate School of Information SystemsThe University of Electro-Communications, ChofuTokyoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Applied Physics and ChemistryThe University of Electro-Communications, ChofuTokyoJapan

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