Maximum entropy models provide functional connectivity estimates in neural networks

Martina Lamberti, Michael Hess, Inês Dias, Michel van Putten, Joost le Feber*, Sarah Marzen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Tools to estimate brain connectivity offer the potential to enhance our understanding of brain functioning. The behavior of neuronal networks, including functional connectivity and induced connectivity changes by external stimuli, can be studied using models of cultured neurons. Cultured neurons tend to be active in groups, and pairs of neurons are said to be functionally connected when their firing patterns show significant synchronicity. Methods to infer functional connections are often based on pair-wise cross-correlation between activity patterns of (small groups of) neurons. However, these methods are not very sensitive to detect inhibitory connections, and they were not designed for use during stimulation. Maximum Entropy (MaxEnt) models may provide a conceptually different method to infer functional connectivity. They have the potential benefit to estimate functional connectivity during stimulation, and to infer excitatory as well as inhibitory connections. MaxEnt models do not involve pairwise comparison, but aim to capture probability distributions of sets of neurons that are synchronously active in discrete time bins. We used electrophysiological recordings from in vitro neuronal cultures on micro electrode arrays to investigate the ability of MaxEnt models to infer functional connectivity. Connectivity estimates provided by MaxEnt models correlated well with those obtained by conditional firing probabilities (CFP), an established cross-correlation based method. In addition, stimulus-induced connectivity changes were detected by MaxEnt models, and were of the same magnitude as those detected by CFP. Thus, MaxEnt models provide a potentially powerful new tool to study functional connectivity in neuronal networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9656
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Early online date10 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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