Journal article

On the stability and dynamics of stochastic spiking neuron models: Nonlinear Hawkes process and point process GLMs

Point process generalized linear models (PP-GLMs) provide an important statistical framework for modeling spiking activity in single-neurons and neuronal networks. Stochastic stability is essential when sampling from these models, as done in computational neuroscience to analyze statistical properties of neuronal dynamics and in neuro-engineering to implement closed-loop applications. Here we show, however, that despite passing common goodness-of-fit tests, PP-GLMs estimated from data are often unstable, leading to divergent firing rates. The inclusion of absolute refractory periods is not a satisfactory solution since the activity then typically settles into unphysiological rates. To address these issues, we derive a framework for determining the existence and stability of fixed points of the expected conditional intensity function (CIF) for general PP-GLMs. Specifically, in nonlinear Hawkes PP-GLMs, the CIF is expressed as a function of the previous spike history and exogenous inputs. We use a mean-field quasi-renewal (QR) approximation that decomposes spike history effects into the contribution of the last spike and an average of the CIF over all spike histories prior to the last spike. Fixed points for stationary rates are derived as self-consistent solutions of integral equations. Bifurcation analysis and the number of fixed points predict that the original models can show stable, divergent, and metastable (fragile) dynamics. For fragile models, fluctuations of the single-neuron dynamics predict expected divergence times after which rates approach unphysiologically high values. This metric can be used to estimate the probability of rates to remain physiological for given time periods, e.g., for simulation purposes. We demonstrate the use of the stability framework using simulated single-neuron examples and neurophysiological recordings. Finally, we show how to adapt PPGLM estimation procedures to guarantee model stability. Overall, our results provide a stability framework for data-driven PP-GLMs and shed new light on the stochastic dynamics of state-of-the-art statistical models of neuronal spiking activity.


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