Philosophy of the Spike: Rate-Based vs. Spike-Based Theories of the Brain

by Romain Brette
Abstract:
Does the brain use a firing rate code or a spike timing code? Considering this controversial question from an epistemological perspective, I argue that progress has been hampered by its problematic phrasing. It takes the perspective of an external observer looking at whether those two observables vary with stimuli, and thereby misses the relevant question: which one has a causal role in neural activity? When rephrased in a more meaningful way, the rate-based view appears as an ad hoc methodological postulate, one that is practical but with virtually no empirical or theoretical support.
Reference:
Romain Brette, 2015. Philosophy of the Spike: Rate-Based vs. Spike-Based Theories of the Brain, Frontiers in systems neuroscience, volume 9.
Bibtex Entry:
@article{Brette2015,
 abstract = {Does the brain use a firing rate code or a spike timing code? Considering this controversial question from an epistemological perspective, I argue that progress has been hampered by its problematic phrasing. It takes the perspective of an external observer looking at whether those two observables vary with stimuli, and thereby misses the relevant question: which one has a causal role in neural activity? When rephrased in a more meaningful way, the rate-based view appears as an ad hoc methodological postulate, one that is practical but with virtually no empirical or theoretical support.},
 author = {Brette, Romain},
 day = {10},
 doi = {10.3389/fnsys.2015.00151},
 journal = {Frontiers in systems neuroscience},
 language = {eng},
 month = {Nov},
 pages = {151},
 title = {Philosophy of the Spike: Rate-Based vs. Spike-Based Theories of the Brain.},
 url = {https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4639701/pdf/fnsys-09-00151.pdf},
 volume = {9},
 year = {2015}
}