Dynamical estimation of neuron and network properties II: Path integral Monte Carlo methods

Department of Physics, University of California, 9500 Gilman Drive, San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0402, USA.
Biological Cybernetics (Impact Factor: 1.71). 04/2012; 106(3):155-67. DOI: 10.1007/s00422-012-0487-5
Source: PubMed


Hodgkin-Huxley (HH) models of neuronal membrane dynamics consist of a set of nonlinear differential equations that describe the time-varying conductance of various ion channels. Using observations of voltage alone we show how to estimate the unknown parameters and unobserved state variables of an HH model in the expected circumstance that the measurements are noisy, the model has errors, and the state of the neuron is not known when observations commence. The joint probability distribution of the observed membrane voltage and the unobserved state variables and parameters of these models is a path integral through the model state space. The solution to this integral allows estimation of the parameters and thus a characterization of many biological properties of interest, including channel complement and density, that give rise to a neuron's electrophysiological behavior. This paper describes a method for directly evaluating the path integral using a Monte Carlo numerical approach. This provides estimates not only of the expected values of model parameters but also of their posterior uncertainty. Using test data simulated from neuronal models comprising several common channels, we show that short (<50 ms) intracellular recordings from neurons stimulated with a complex time-varying current yield accurate and precise estimates of the model parameters as well as accurate predictions of the future behavior of the neuron. We also show that this method is robust to errors in model specification, supporting model development for biological preparations in which the channel expression and other biophysical properties of the neurons are not fully known.

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