Partial and Entropic Information Decompositions of a Neuronal Modulatory Interaction



Kay JW, Ince RAA, Dering B & Phillips W (2017) Partial and Entropic Information Decompositions of a Neuronal Modulatory Interaction. Entropy, 19 (11), Art. No.: 560.

Information processing within neural systems often depends upon selective amplification of relevant signals and suppression of irrelevant signals. This has been shown many times by studies of contextual effects but there is as yet no consensus on how to interpret such studies. Some researchers interpret the effects of context as contributing to the selective receptive field (RF) input about which neurons transmit information. Others interpret context effects as affecting transmission of information about RF input without becoming part of the RF information transmitted. Here we use partial information decomposition (PID) and entropic information decomposition (EID) to study the properties of a form of modulation previously used in neurobiologically plausible neural nets. PID shows that this form of modulation can affect transmission of information in the RF input without the binary output transmitting any information unique to the modulator. EID produces similar decompositions, except that information unique to the modulator and the mechanistic shared component can be negative when modulating and modulated signals are correlated. Synergistic and source shared components were never negative in the conditions studied. Thus, both PID and EID show that modulatory inputs to a local processor can affect the transmission of information from other inputs. Contrary to what was previously assumed, this transmission can occur without the modulatory inputs becoming part of the information transmitted, as shown by the use of PID with the model we consider. Decompositions of psychophysical data from a visual contrast detection task with surrounding context suggest that a similar form of modulation may also occur in real neural systems.

information theory; partial information decomposition; entropic information decomposition; synergy; redundancy; contextual modulation; neural information processing

Entropy: Volume 19, Issue 11

Publication date26/10/2017
Publication date online26/10/2017
Date accepted by journal23/10/2017

People (2)


Dr Benjamin Dering
Dr Benjamin Dering

Lecturer, Psychology

Professor Bill Phillips
Professor Bill Phillips

Emeritus Professor, Psychology