Repeating patterns of precisely timed activity across a group of neurons (called frequent episodes) are indicative of networks in the underlying neural tissue. This letter develops statistical methods to determine functional connectivity among neurons based on nonoverlapping occurrences of episodes. We study the distribution of episode counts and develop a two-phase strategy for identifying functional connections. For the first phase, we develop statistical procedures that are used to screen all two-node episodes and identify possible functional connections (edges). For the second phase, we develop additional statistical procedures to prune the two-node episodes and remove false edges that can be attributed to chains or fan-out structures. The restriction to nonoverlapping occurrences makes the counting of all two-node episodes in phase 1 computationally efficient. The second (pruning) phase is critical since phase 1 can yield a large number of false connections. The scalability of the two-phase approach is examined through simulation. The method is then used to reconstruct the graph structure of observed neuronal networks, first from simulated data and then from recordings of cultured cortical neurons.

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