Current spike sorting methods focus on clustering neurons' characteristic spike waveforms. The resulting spike-sorted data are typically used to estimate how covariates of interest modulate the firing rates of neurons. However, when these covariates do modulate the firing rates, they provide information about spikes' identities, which thus far have been ignored for the purpose of spike sorting. This letter describes a novel approach to spike sorting, which incorporates both waveform information and tuning information obtained from the modulation of firing rates. Because it efficiently uses all the available information, this spike sorter yields lower spike misclassification rates than traditional automatic spike sorters. This theoretical result is verified empirically on several examples. The proposed method does not require additional assumptions; only its implementation is different. It essentially consists of performing spike sorting and tuning estimation simultaneously rather than sequentially, as is currently done. We used an expectation-maximization maximum likelihood algorithm to implement the new spike sorter. We present the general form of this algorithm and provide a detailed implementable version under the assumptions that neurons are independent and spike according to Poisson processes. Finally, we uncover a systematic flaw of spike sorting based on waveform information only.

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