Skip to main content

Measures of statistical dispersion based on Entropy and Fisher information

We propose and discuss two information-based measures of statistical dispersion suitable to description of interspike interval data. The measures are compared with the standard deviation. Although the standard deviation is used routinely, we show that it is not well suited to quantify some aspects of dispersion which are often expected intuitively, such as the degree of randomness. The proposed dispersion measures are not mutually independent, however, each describes the firing regularity from a different point of view. We discuss relationships between the measures and describe their extreme values. We also apply the method to real experimental data from spontaneously active olfactory neurons of rats. Our results and conclusions are applicable to a wide range of situations where the distribution of a continuous positive random variable is of interest.


  1. Kostal L, Lansky P, Rospars JP: Review: Neuronal coding and spiking randomness. Eur J Neurosci. 2007, 26: 2693-2701. 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2007.05880.x.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  2. Kostal L, Marsalek P: Neuronal jitter: can we measure the spike timing dispersion differently?. Chin J Physiol. 2010, 53: 454-464.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references


This work was supported by AV0Z50110509 and Centre for Neuroscience LC554.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Kostal, L., Lansky, P. & Pokora, O. Measures of statistical dispersion based on Entropy and Fisher information. BMC Neurosci 12 (Suppl 1), P255 (2011).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: