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  1. Granger causality is among the widely used data-driven approaches for causal analysis of time series data with applications in various areas including economics, molecular biology, and neuroscience. Two of the main challenges of this methodology are: 1) over-fitting as a result of limited data duration, and 2) correlated process noise as a confounding factor, both leading to errors in identifying the causal influences. Sparse estimation via the LASSO has successfully addressed these challenges for parameter estimation. However, the classical statistical tests for Granger causality resort to asymptotic analysis of ordinary least squares, which require long data duration to be useful and are not immune to confounding effects. In this work, we address this disconnect by introducing a LASSO-based statistic and studying its non-asymptotic properties under the assumption that the true models admit sparse autoregressive representations. We establish fundamental limits for reliable identification of Granger causal influences using the proposed LASSO-based statistic. We further characterize the false positive error probability and test power of a simple thresholding rule for identifying Granger causal effects and provide two methods to set the threshold in a data-driven fashion. We present simulation studies and application to real data to compare the performance of our proposed method to ordinary least squares and existing LASSO-based methods in detecting Granger causal influences, which corroborate our theoretical results. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available November 1, 2024
  2. Extracting directional connectivity in a neuronal ensemble from spiking observations is a key challenge in understanding the circuit mechanisms of brain function. Existing methods proceed in two stages, by first estimating the latent processes that govern spiking, followed by characterizing connectivity using said estimates. As such, the extracted networks in the second stage are highly sensitive to the accuracy of the estimates in the first stage. In this work, we introduce a framework to directly extract Granger causal links from spiking observations, without requiring intermediate time-domain estimation, by explicitly modeling the endogenous and exogenous latent processes that underlie spiking activity. Our proposed method integrates several techniques such as point processes, state-space modeling and PĆ³lya-Gamma augmentation. We demonstrate the utility of our proposed approach using simulated data and application to real data from the rat brain during sleep. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 3, 2024
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  4. Coordinated ensemble spiking activity is widely observable in neural recordings and central in the study of population codes, with hypothesized roles including robust stimulus representation, interareal communication of neural information, and learning and memory formation. Model-free measures of synchrony characterize the coherence of pairwise activity, but not higher-order interactions; this limitation is transcended by statistical models of ensemble spiking activity. However, existing model-based analyses often impose assumptions about the relevance of higher-order interactions and require multiple repeated trials in order to characterize dynamics in the correlational structure of ensemble activity. To address these shortcomings, we propose an adaptive greedy filtering algorithm based on a discretized mark point-process model of ensemble spiking and a corresponding precise statistical inference framework to identify significant coordinated higher-order spiking activity. In the course of developing the statistical inference procedures, we also show that confidence intervals can be constructed for greedily estimated parameters. We demonstrate the utility of our proposed methods on simulated neuronal assemblies. Applied to multi-electrode recordings of human cortical ensembles, our proposed methods provide new insights into the dynamics underlying localized population activity during transitions between brain states. 
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