Smoothing of, and parameter estimation from, noisy biophysical recordings

Quentin Huys and Liam Paninski

PLOS Comp. Bio. 5(5): e1000379.

Background: Biophysically detailed models of single cells are difficult to fit to real data. Recent advances in imaging techniques allow simultaneous access to various intracellular variables, and these data can be used to significantly facilitate the modelling task. These data, however, are noisy, and current approaches to building biophysically detailed models are not designed to deal with this.
Methodology: We extend previous techniques to take the noisy nature of the measurements into account. Sequential Monte Carlo methods in combination with a detailed biophysical description of a cell are used for principled, model-based smoothing of noisy recording data. We also provide an alternative formulation of smoothing where the neural nonlinearities are estimated in a nonparametric manner.
Conclusions / Significance: Biophysically important parameters of detailed models (such as channel densities, intercompartmental conductances, input resistances and observation noise) are inferred automatically from noisy data via expectation-maximisation. Overall, we find that model-based smoothing is a powerful, robust technique for smoothing of noisy biophysical data and for inference of biophysical parameters in the face of recording noise.
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