We propose a novel biologically-plausible solution to the credit assignment problem, being motivated by observations in the ventral visual pathway and trained deep neural networks. In both, representations of objects in the same category become progressively more similar, while objects belonging to different categories becomes less similar. We use this observation to motivate a layer-specific learning goal in a deep network: each layer aims to learn a representational similarity matrix that interpolates between previous and later layers. We formulate this idea using a supervised deep similarity matching cost function and derive from it deep neural networks with feedforward, lateral and feedback connections, and neurons that exhibit biologically-plausible Hebbian and anti-Hebbian plasticity. Supervised deep similarity matching can be interpreted as an energy-based learning algorithm, but with significant differences from others in how a contrastive function is constructed.
Continual learning is the problem of sequentially learning new tasks or knowledge while protecting previously acquired knowledge. However, catastrophic forgetting poses a grand challenge for neural networks performing such learning process. Thus, neural networks that are deployed in the real world often struggle in scenarios where the data distribution is non-stationary (concept drift), imbalanced, or not always fully available, i.e., rare edge cases. We propose a Differentiable Hebbian Consolidation model which is composed of a Differentiable Hebbian Plasticity (DHP) Softmax layer that adds a rapid learning plastic component (compressed episodic memory) to the fixed (slow changing) parameters of the softmax output layer; enabling learned representations to be retained for a longer timescale. We demonstrate the flexibility of our method by integrating well-known task-specific synaptic consolidation methods to penalize changes in the slow weights that are important for each target task. We evaluate our approach on the Permuted MNIST, Split MNIST and Vision Datasets Mixture benchmarks, and introduce an imbalanced variant of Permuted MNIST -- a dataset that combines the challenges of class imbalance and concept drift. Our proposed model requires no additional hyperparameters and outperforms comparable baselines by reducing forgetting.
How can we build agents that keep learning from experience, quickly and efficiently, after their initial training? Here we take inspiration from the main mechanism of learning in biological brains: synaptic plasticity, carefully tuned by evolution to produce efficient lifelong learning. We show that plasticity, just like connection weights, can be optimized by gradient descent in large (millions of parameters) recurrent networks with Hebbian plastic connections. First, recurrent plastic networks with more than two million parameters can be trained to memorize and reconstruct sets of novel, high-dimensional 1000+ pixels natural images not seen during training. Crucially, traditional non-plastic recurrent networks fail to solve this task. Furthermore, trained plastic networks can also solve generic meta-learning tasks such as the Omniglot task, with competitive results and little parameter overhead. Finally, in reinforcement learning settings, plastic networks outperform a non-plastic equivalent in a maze exploration task. We conclude that differentiable plasticity may provide a powerful novel approach to the learning-to-learn problem.
Two main routes of learning methods exist at present including neuroscience-inspired methods and machine learning methods. Both have own advantages, but neither currently can solve all learning problems well. Integrating them into one network may provide better learning abilities for general tasks. On the other hand, spiking neural network embodies "computation" in spatiotemporal domain with unique features of rich coding scheme and threshold switching, which is very suitable for low power and high parallel neuromorphic computing. Here, we report a spike-based general learning model that integrates two learning routes by introducing a brain-inspired meta-local module and a two-phase parametric modelling. The hybrid model can meta-learn general local plasticity, and receive top-down supervision information for multi-scale learning. We demonstrate that this hybrid model facilitates learning of many general tasks, including fault-tolerance learning, few-shot learning and multiple-task learning. Furthermore, the implementation of the hybrid model on the Tianjic neuromorphic platform proves that it can fully utilize the advantages of neuromorphic hardware architecture and promote energy-efficient on-chip applications.
Biological plastic neural networks are systems of extraordinary computational capabilities shaped by evolution, development, and lifetime learning. The interplay of these elements leads to the emergence of adaptive behavior and intelligence. Inspired by such intricate natural phenomena, Evolved Plastic Artificial Neural Networks (EPANNs) use simulated evolution in-silico to breed plastic neural networks with a large variety of dynamics, architectures, and plasticity rules: these artificial systems are composed of inputs, outputs, and plastic components that change in response to experiences in an environment. These systems may autonomously discover novel adaptive algorithms, and lead to hypotheses on the emergence of biological adaptation. EPANNs have seen considerable progress over the last two decades. Current scientific and technological advances in artificial neural networks are now setting the conditions for radically new approaches and results. In particular, the limitations of hand-designed networks could be overcome by more flexible and innovative solutions. This paper brings together a variety of inspiring ideas that define the field of EPANNs. The main methods and results are reviewed. Finally, new opportunities and developments are presented.