Local field potentials (LFP), the low-frequency part of extracellular electrical recordings, are a measure of the neural activity reflecting dendritic processing of synaptic inputs to neuronal populations. To localize synaptic dynamics, it is convenient, whenever possible, to estimate the density of transmembrane current sources (CSD) generating the LFP. In this work, we propose a new framework, the kernel current source density method (kCSD), for nonparametric estimation of CSD from LFP recorded from arbitrarily distributed electrodes using kernel methods. We test specific implementations of this framework on model data measured with one-, two-, and three-dimensional multielectrode setups. We compare these methods with the traditional approach through numerical approximation of the Laplacian and with the recently developed inverse current source density methods (iCSD). We show that iCSD is a special case of kCSD. The proposed method opens up new experimental possibilities for CSD analysis from existing or new recordings on arbitrarily distributed electrodes (not necessarily on a grid), which can be obtained in extracellular recordings of single unit activity with multiple electrodes.

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