Correlations without synchrony
Peaks in spike train correlograms are usually taken as indicative of spike timing synchronization between neurons. Strictly speaking, however, a peak merely indicates that the two spike trains were not independent. Two biologically plausible ways of departing from independence that are capable of generating peaks very similar to spike timing peaks are described here: covariations over trials in response latency and covariations over trials in neuronal excitability. Since peaks due to these interactions can be similar to spike timing peaks, interpreting a correlogram may be a problem with ambiguous solutions. What peak shapes do latency or excitability interactions generate? When are they similar to spike timing peaks? When can they be ruled out from having caused an observed correlogram peak? These are the questions addressed here. The previous article in this issue proposes quantitative methods to tell cases apart when latency or excitability covariations cannot be ruled out.