Extracellular electrophysiology and two-photon calcium imaging are widely used methods for measuring physiological activity with single-cell resolution across large populations of neurons in the brain. While these two modalities have distinct advantages and disadvantages, neither provides complete, unbiased information about the underlying neural population. Here, we compare evoked responses in visual cortex recorded in awake mice under highly standardized conditions using either imaging or electrophysiology. Across all stimulus conditions tested, we observe a larger fraction of responsive neurons in electrophysiology and higher stimulus selectivity in calcium imaging. This work explores which data transformations are most useful for explaining these modality-specific discrepancies. We show that the higher selectivity in imaging can be partially reconciled by applying a spikes-to-calcium forward model to the electrophysiology data. However, the forward model could not reconcile differences in responsiveness without sub-selecting neurons based on event rate or level of signal contamination. This suggests that differences in responsiveness more likely reflect neuronal sampling bias or cluster-merging artifacts during spike sorting of electrophysiological recordings, rather than flaws in event detection from fluorescence time series. This work establishes the dominant impacts of the two modalities respective biases on a set of functional metrics that are fundamental for characterizing sensory-evoked responses.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience