Sci Rep. 2020 Sep 29;10(1):15997. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-72936-1.
Neurons in sensory cortices are more naturally and deeply integrated than any current neural population recording tools (e.g. electrode arrays, fluorescence imaging). Two concepts facilitate efforts to observe population neural code with single-cell recordings. First, even the highest quality single-cell recording studies find a fraction of the stimulus information in high-dimensional population recordings. Finding any of this missing information provides proof of principle. Second, neurons and neural populations are understood as coupled nonlinear differential equations. Therefore, fitted ordinary differential equations provide a basis for single-trial single-cell stimulus decoding. We obtained intracellular recordings of fluctuating transmembrane current and potential in mouse visual cortex during stimulation with drifting gratings. We use mean deflection from baseline when comparing to prior single-cell studies because action potentials are too sparse and the deflection response to drifting grating stimuli (e.g. tuning curves) are well studied. Equation-based decoders allowed more precise single-trial stimulus discrimination than tuning-curve-base decoders. Performance varied across recorded signal types in a manner consistent with population recording studies and both classification bases evinced distinct stimulus-evoked phases of population dynamics, providing further corroboration. Naturally and deeply integrated observations of population dynamics would be invaluable. We offer proof of principle and a versatile framework.