Identifying functional connectivity between neuronal elements is an essential first step toward understanding how the brain orchestrates information processing at the single-cell and population levels to carry out biological computations. This letter suggests a new approach to identify functional connectivity between neuronal elements from their simultaneously recorded spike trains. In particular, we identify clusters of neurons that exhibit functional interdependency over variable spatial and temporal patterns of interaction. We represent neurons as objects in a graph and connect them using arbitrarily defined similarity measures calculated across multiple timescales. We then use a probabilistic spectral clustering algorithm to cluster the neurons in the graph by solving a minimum graph cut optimization problem. Using point process theory to model population activity, we demonstrate the robustness of the approach in tracking a broad spectrum of neuronal interaction, from synchrony to rate co-modulation, by systematically varying the length of the firing history interval and the strength of the connecting synapses that govern the discharge pattern of each neuron. We also demonstrate how activity-dependent plasticity can be tracked and quantified in multiple network topologies built to mimic distinct behavioral contexts. We compare the performance to classical approaches to illustrate the substantial gain in performance.

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