Hierarchical Mixture Models in Neurological Transmission Analysis
Hierarchically structured mixture models are studied in the context of data analysis and inference on neural synaptic transmission characteristics in mammalian, and other, central nervous systems. Mixture structures arise due to uncertainties about the stochastic mechanisms governing the responses to electrochemical stimulation of individual neurotransmitter release sites at nerve junctions. Models attempt to capture such scientific features as the sensitivity of individual synaptic transmission sites to electrochemical stimuli and the extent of their electrochemical responses when stimulated. This is done via suitably structured classes of prior distributions for parameters describing these features. Such priors may be structured to permit assessment of currently topical scientific hypotheses about fundamental neural function. Posterior analysis is implemented via stochastic simulation. Several data analyses are described to illustrate the approach, with resulting neurophysiological insights in some recently generated experimental contexts. Further developments and open questions, both neurophysiological and statistical, are noted. © 1997 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
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