Entropy and information in neural spike trains

S. P. Strong, Roland Koberle, Rob R. De Ruyter Van Steveninck, William Bialek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

712 Scopus citations


The nervous system represents time dependent signals in sequences of discrete, identical action potentials or spikes; information is carried only in the spike arrival times. We show how to quantify this information, in bits, free from any assumptions about which features of the spike train or input signal are most important, and we apply this approach to the analysis of experiments on a motion sensitive neuron in the fly visual system. This neuron transmits information about the visual stimulus at rates of up to 90 bits/s, within a factor of 2 of the physical limit set by the entropy of the spike train itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)197-200
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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