In this review, we provide an accessible primer to modern modeling approaches and highlight recent data-driven discoveries in the domains of neuroimaging, single-neuron and neuronal population responses, and device neuroengineering.
Brains face the fundamental challenge of extracting relevant information from high-dimensional external stimuli in order to form the neural basis that can guide an organism's behavior and its interaction with the world. One potential approach to addressing this challenge is to reduce the number of variables required to represent a particular input space (i.e., dimensionality reduction). We review compelling evidence that a range of neuronal responses can be understood as an emergent property of nonnegative sparse coding (NSC)—a form of efficient population coding due to dimensionality reduction and sparsity constraints.
To investigate the effect of axonal stimulation on the retinal response, we developed a computational model of a small population of morphologically and biophysically detailed retinal ganglion cells, and simulated their response to epiretinal electrical stimulation. We found that activation thresholds of ganglion cell somas and axons varied systematically with both stimulus pulse duration and electrode-retina distance. These findings have important implications for the improvement of stimulus encoding methods for epiretinal prostheses.