Fast nonconvex deconvolution of calcium imaging data

Sean W. Jewell, Toby Dylan Hocking, Paul Fearnhead, Daniela M. Witten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Calcium imaging data promises to transform the field of neuroscience by making it possible to record from large populations of neurons simultaneously. However, determining the exact moment in time at which a neuron spikes, from a calcium imaging data set, amounts to a non-trivial deconvolution problem which is of critical importance for downstream analyses. While a number of formulations have been proposed for this task in the recent literature, in this article, we focus on a formulation recently proposed in Jewell and Witten (2018. Exact spike train inference via $\ell_{0} $ optimization. The Annals of Applied Statistics12(4), 2457-2482) that can accurately estimate not just the spike rate, but also the specific times at which the neuron spikes. We develop a much faster algorithm that can be used to deconvolve a fluorescence trace of 100 000 timesteps in less than a second. Furthermore, we present a modification to this algorithm that precludes the possibility of a "negative spike". We demonstrate the performance of this algorithm for spike deconvolution on calcium imaging datasets that were recently released as part of the The algorithm presented in this article was used in the Allen Institute for Brain Science's "platform paper"to decode neural activity from the Allen Brain Observatory; this is the main scientific paper in which their data resource is presented. Our and wrappers, is publicly availablecode is available on wrappers are available on.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)709-726
Number of pages18
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Calcium imaging
  • Changepoint detection
  • Neuroscience
  • Nonconvex optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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