Mechanisms underlying efficient coding of natural stimuli revealed

Maurice Chacron

Maurice Chacron

Maurice Chacron and his team at McGill University have discovered that sensory neurons can efficiently encode stimuli by ensuring that the neuron’s tuning function is matched to the statistics of the input found in the organism’s natural environment.
Published in Nature Communications, their study shows that small conductance calcium-activated potassium (SK) channels regulate and optimize sensory neural responses to natural stimuli. Changes in SK channel conductance disrupted neural tuning, which in turn compromised optimality of coding and behavioral responses. These results thus reveal an elegant computation by which the brain can adapt to changes in natural stimulus statistics, which is critical for understanding brain function at large.

Original research article:
Huang CG, Zhang ZD, Chacron MJ. Temporal decorrelation by SK channels enables efficient neural coding and perception of natural stimuli. Nat Commun. 2016 Apr 18;7:11353. doi: 10.1038/ncomms11353. (OPEN)

Download the PDF version of the Nature Communications paper here