Discrete Stepping and Nonlinear Ramping Dynamics Underlie Spiking Responses of LIP Neurons during Decision-Making

David M. Zoltowski, Kenneth W. Latimer, Jacob L. Yates, Alexander C. Huk, Jonathan William Pillow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Neurons in LIP exhibit ramping trial-averaged responses during decision-making. Recent work sparked debate over whether single-trial LIP spike trains are better described by discrete “stepping” or continuous “ramping” dynamics. We extended latent dynamical spike train models and used Bayesian model comparison to address this controversy. First, we incorporated non-Poisson spiking into both models and found that more neurons were better described by stepping than ramping, even when conditioned on evidence or choice. Second, we extended the ramping model to include a non-zero baseline and compressive output nonlinearity. This model accounted for roughly as many neurons as the stepping model. However, latent dynamics inferred under this model exhibited high diffusion variance for many neurons, softening the distinction between continuous and discrete dynamics. Results generalized to additional datasets, demonstrating that substantial fractions of neurons are well described by either stepping or nonlinear ramping, which may be less categorically distinct than the original labels implied. The single-trial dynamics of LIP neurons during decision-making are under debate. Zoltowski et al. extend latent stepping and ramping models of LIP dynamics and find that a robust fraction of LIP neurons is better described by each model class.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1249-1258.e10
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 19 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


  • LIP
  • decision-making
  • drift-diffusion model
  • lateral intraparietal area
  • neural dynamics
  • stepping


Dive into the research topics of 'Discrete Stepping and Nonlinear Ramping Dynamics Underlie Spiking Responses of LIP Neurons during Decision-Making'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this