A parameter-free statistical test for neuronal responsiveness

Jorrit Steven Montijn, Koen Seignette, Marcus H Howlett, J Leonie Cazemier, Maarten Kamermans, Christiaan Nicolaas Levelt, J Alexander Heimel

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
130 Downloads (Pure)


Neurophysiological studies depend on a reliable quantification of whether and when a neuron responds to stimulation. Simple methods to determine responsiveness require arbitrary parameter choices, such as binning size, while more advanced model-based methods require fitting and hyperparameter tuning. These parameter choices can change the results, which invites bad statistical practice and reduces the replicability. New recording techniques that yield increasingly large numbers of cells would benefit from a test for cell-inclusion that requires no manual curation. Here, we present the parameter-free ZETA-test, which outperforms t-tests, ANOVAs, and renewal-process-based methods by including more cells at a similar false-positive rate. We show that our procedure works across brain regions and recording techniques, including calcium imaging and Neuropixels data. Furthermore, in illustration of the method, we show in mouse visual cortex that 1) visuomotor-mismatch and spatial location are encoded by different neuronal subpopulations; and 2) optogenetic stimulation of VIP cells leads to early inhibition and subsequent disinhibition.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere71969
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2021


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