We show that the dynamics of spiking neurons can be interpreted as a form of Bayesian inference in time. Neurons that optimally integrate evidence about events in the external world exhibit properties similar to leaky integrate-and-fire neurons with spike-dependent adaptation and maximally respond to fluctuations of their input. Spikes signal the occurrence of new information—what cannot be predicted from the past activity. As a result, firing statistics are close to Poisson, albeit providing a deterministic representation of probabilities.

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