Understanding a neuron’s transfer function, which relates a neuron’s inputs to its outputs, is essential for understanding the computational role of single neurons. Recently, statistical models, based on point processes and using generalized linear model (GLM) technology, have been widely applied to predict dynamic neuronal transfer functions. However, the standard version of these models fails to capture important features of neural activity, such as responses to stimuli that elicit highly reliable trial-to-trial spiking. Here, we consider a generalization of the usual GLM that incorporates nonlinearity by modeling reliable and nonreliable spikes as being generated by distinct stimulus features. We develop and apply these models to spike trains from olfactory bulb mitral cells recorded in vitro. We find that spike generation in these neurons is better modeled when reliable and unreliable spikes are considered separately and that this effect is most pronounced for neurons with a large number of both reliable and unreliable spikes.

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