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This article is part of the supplement: Sixteenth Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting: CNS*2007

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Measuring spike train synchrony and reliability

Thomas Kreuz1*, Julie S Haas2, Alice Morelli3, Henry DI Abarbanel24 and Antonio Politi1

Author Affiliations

1 Istituto dei Sistemi Complessi – CNR, Sesto Fiorentino, Italy

2 Institute for Nonlinear Sciences, University of California, San Diego, CA, USA

3 Istituto Nazionale di Ottica Applicata, Firenze, Italy

4 Department of Physics and Marine Physical Laboratory (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), University of California, San Diego, CA, USA

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BMC Neuroscience 2007, 8(Suppl 2):P79  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-8-S2-P79

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:6 July 2007

© 2007 Kreuz et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Poster presentation

Estimating the degree of synchrony or reliability between two or more spike trains is a frequent task in both experimental and computational neuroscience. In recent years, many different methods have been proposed that typically compare the timing of spikes on a certain time scale to be fixed beforehand. In this study [1], we propose the ISI-distance, a simple complementary approach that extracts information from the interspike intervals by evaluating the ratio of the instantaneous frequencies. The method is parameter free, time scale independent and easy to visualize as illustrated by an application to real neuronal spike trains obtained in vitro from rat slices (cf. [2]). We compare the method with six existing approaches (two spike train metrics [3,4], a correlation measure [2,5], a similarity measure [6], and event synchronization [7]) using spike trains extracted from a simulated Hindemarsh-Rose network [8]. In this comparison the ISI-distance performs as well as the best time-scale-optimized measure based on spike timing, without requiring an externally determined time scale for interaction or comparison.


TK has been supported by the Marie Curie Individual Intra-European Fellowship "DEAN", project No 011434. JSH acknowledges financial support by the San Diego Foundation.


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