We study the discrimination capability of spike time sequences using the Chernoff distance as a metric. We assume that spike sequences are generated by renewal processes and study how the Chernoff distance depends on the shape of interspike interval (ISI) distribution. First, we consider a lower bound to the Chernoff distance because it has a simple closed form. Then we consider specific models of ISI distributions such as the gamma, inverse gaussian (IG), exponential with refractory period (ER), and that of the leaky integrate-and-fire (LIF) neuron. We found that the discrimination capability of spike times strongly depends on high-order moments of ISI and that it is higher when the spike time sequence has a larger skewness and a smaller kurtosis. High variability in terms of coefficient of variation (CV) does not necessarily mean that the spike times have less discrimination capability. Spike sequences generated by the gamma distribution have the minimum discrimination capability for a given mean and variance of ISI. We used series expansions to calculate the mean and variance of ISIs for LIF neurons as a function of the mean input level and the input noise variance. Spike sequences from an LIF neuron are more capable of discrimination than those of IG and gamma distributions when the stationary voltage level is close to the neuron's threshold value of the neuron.

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