Multichannel electrophysiological spike sorting via joint dictionary learning and mixture modeling


We propose a methodology for joint feature learning and clustering of multichannel extracellular electrophysiological data, across multiple recording periods for action potential detection and classification (sorting). Our methodology improves over the previous state of the art principally in four ways. First, via sharing information across channels, we can better distinguish between single-unit spikes and artifacts. Second, our proposed "focused mixture model" (FMM) deals with units appearing, disappearing, or reappearing over multiple recording days, an important consideration for any chronic experiment. Third, by jointly learning features and clusters, we improve performance over previous attempts that proceeded via a two-stage learning process. Fourth, by directly modeling spike rate, we improve the detection of sparsely firing neurons. Moreover, our Bayesian methodology seamlessly handles missing data. We present the state-of-the-art performance without requiring manually tuning hyperparameters, considering both a public dataset with partial ground truth and a new experimental dataset. © 2013 IEEE.






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Publication Info

Carlson, David E, Joshua T Vogelstein, Qisong Wu, Wenzhao Lian, Mingyuan Zhou, Colin R Stoetzner, Daryl Kipke, Douglas Weber, et al. (2014). Multichannel electrophysiological spike sorting via joint dictionary learning and mixture modeling. IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering, 61(1). pp. 41–54. 10.1109/TBME.2013.2275751 Retrieved from

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David Carlson

Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

My general research focus is on developing novel machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques that can be used to accelerate scientific discovery.  I work extensively both on the fundamental theory and algorithms as well as translating them into scientific applications.  I have extensive partnerships deploying machine learning techniques in environmental health, mental health, and neuroscience.  


David B. Dunson

Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of Statistical Science

My research focuses on developing new tools for probabilistic learning from complex data - methods development is directly motivated by challenging applications in ecology/biodiversity, neuroscience, environmental health, criminal justice/fairness, and more.  We seek to develop new modeling frameworks, algorithms and corresponding code that can be used routinely by scientists and decision makers.  We are also interested in new inference framework and in studying theoretical properties of methods we develop.  

Some highlight application areas: 
(1) Modeling of biological communities and biodiversity - we are considering global data on fungi, insects, birds and animals including DNA sequences, images, audio, etc.  Data contain large numbers of species unknown to science and we would like to learn about these new species, community network structure, and the impact of environmental change and climate.

(2) Brain connectomics - based on high resolution imaging data of the human brain, we are seeking to developing new statistical and machine learning models for relating brain networks to human traits and diseases.

(3) Environmental health & mixtures - we are building tools for relating chemical and other exposures (air pollution etc) to human health outcomes, accounting for spatial dependence in both exposures and disease.  This includes an emphasis on infectious disease modeling, such as COVID-19.

Some statistical areas that play a prominent role in our methods development include models for low-dimensional structure in data (latent factors, clustering, geometric and manifold learning), flexible/nonparametric models (neural networks, Gaussian/spatial processes, other stochastic processes), Bayesian inference frameworks, efficient sampling and analytic approximation algorithms, and models for "object data" (trees, networks, images, spatial processes, etc).


Lawrence Carin

Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Lawrence Carin earned the BS, MS, and PhD degrees in electrical engineering at the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1985, 1986, and 1989, respectively. In 1989 he joined the Electrical Engineering Department at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute (now part of NYU) as an Assistant Professor, and became an Associate Professor there in 1994. In September 1995 he joined the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at Duke University, where he is now a Professor. He was ECE Department Chair from 2011-2014, and Vice Provost and Vice President for Research from 2014-2020. He was the Provost at King Abdullah University of Science & Technology (KAUST) from 2020-2023, returning to Duke in 2023. From 2003-2014 he held the William H. Younger Distinguished Professorship, and since 2018 he has held the James L. Meriam Distinguished Professorship. Dr. Carin's research focuses on machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). He publishes widely in the main ML/AI forums, and has addressed many applications of AI, including in  medicine and security. He was co-founder of the small business Signal Innovations Group, which was acquired by BAE Systems in 2014, and in 2017 he co-founded the company Infinia ML, which was acquired by Aspirion in 2023. He is an IEEE Fellow.

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