neuron


Learning Multi-level Sparse Representations

Neural Information Processing Systems

Bilinear approximation of a matrix is a powerful paradigm of unsupervised learning. In some applications, however, there is a natural hierarchy of concepts that ought to be reflected in the unsupervised analysis. For example, in the neurosciences image sequence considered here, there are the semantic concepts of pixel $\rightarrow$ neuron $\rightarrow$ assembly that should find their counterpart in the unsupervised analysis. Driven by this concrete problem, we propose a decomposition of the matrix of observations into a product of more than two sparse matrices, with the rank decreasing from lower to higher levels. In contrast to prior work, we allow for both hierarchical and heterarchical relations of lower-level to higher-level concepts.


Optimal prior-dependent neural population codes under shared input noise

Neural Information Processing Systems

The brain uses population codes to form distributed, noise-tolerant representations of sensory and motor variables. Recent work has examined the theoretical optimality of such codes in order to gain insight into the principles governing population codes found in the brain. However, the majority of the population coding literature considers either conditionally independent neurons or neurons with noise governed by a stimulus-independent covariance matrix. Here we analyze population coding under a simple alternative model in which latent input noise" corrupts the stimulus before it is encoded by the population. This provides a convenient and tractable description for irreducible uncertainty that cannot be overcome by adding neurons, and induces stimulus-dependent correlations that mimic certain aspects of the correlations observed in real populations. We examine prior-dependent, Bayesian optimal coding in such populations using exact analyses of cases in which the posterior is approximately Gaussian. These analyses extend previous results on independent Poisson population codes and yield an analytic expression for squared loss and a tight upper bound for mutual information. We show that, for homogeneous populations that tile the input domain, optimal tuning curve width depends on the prior, the loss function, the resource constraint, and the amount of input noise. This framework provides a practical testbed for examining issues of optimality, noise, correlation, and coding fidelity in realistic neural populations."


Receptive Fields without Spike-Triggering

Neural Information Processing Systems

Stimulus selectivity of sensory neurons is often characterized by estimating their receptive field properties such as orientation selectivity. Receptive fields are usually derived from the mean (or covariance) of the spike-triggered stimulus ensemble. This approach treats each spike as an independent message but does not take into account that information might be conveyed through patterns of neural activity that are distributed across space or time. Can we find a concise description for the processing of a whole population of neurons analogous to the receptive field for single neurons? Here, we present a generalization of the linear receptive field which is not bound to be triggered on individual spikes but can be meaningfully linked to distributed response patterns.


A configurable analog VLSI neural network with spiking neurons and self-regulating plastic synapses

Neural Information Processing Systems

We summarize the implementation of an analog VLSI chip hosting a network of 32 integrate-and-fire (IF) neurons with spike-frequency adaptation and 2,048 Hebbian plastic bistable spike-driven stochastic synapses endowed with a self-regulating mechanism which stops unnecessary synaptic changes. The synaptic matrix can be flexibly configured and provides both recurrent and AER-based connectivity with external, AER compliant devices. We demonstrate the ability of the network to efficiently classify overlapping patterns, thanks to the self-regulating mechanism. Papers published at the Neural Information Processing Systems Conference.


Simplified Rules and Theoretical Analysis for Information Bottleneck Optimization and PCA with Spiking Neurons

Neural Information Processing Systems

We show that under suitable assumptions (primarily linearization) a simple and perspicuous online learning rule for Information Bottleneck optimization with spiking neurons can be derived. This rule performs on common benchmark tasks as well as a rather complex rule that has previously been proposed \cite{KlampflETAL:07b}. Furthermore, the transparency of this new learning rule makes a theoretical analysis of its convergence properties feasible. A variation of this learning rule (with sign changes) provides a theoretically founded method for performing Principal Component Analysis {(PCA)} with spiking neurons. By applying this rule to an ensemble of neurons, different principal components of the input can be extracted.


Gaussian-process factor analysis for low-dimensional single-trial analysis of neural population activity

Neural Information Processing Systems

We consider the problem of extracting smooth low-dimensional neural trajectories'' that summarize the activity recorded simultaneously from tens to hundreds of neurons on individual experimental trials. Beyond the benefit of visualizing the high-dimensional noisy spiking activity in a compact denoised form, such trajectories can offer insight into the dynamics of the neural circuitry underlying the recorded activity. Current methods for extracting neural trajectories involve a two-stage process: the data are first denoised'' by smoothing over time, then a static dimensionality reduction technique is applied. We first describe extensions of the two-stage methods that allow the degree of smoothing to be chosen in a principled way, and account for spiking variability that may vary both across neurons and across time. We then present a novel method for extracting neural trajectories, Gaussian-process factor analysis (GPFA), which unifies the smoothing and dimensionality reduction operations in a common probabilistic framework.


Code-specific policy gradient rules for spiking neurons

Neural Information Processing Systems

Although it is widely believed that reinforcement learning is a suitable tool for describing behavioral learning, the mechanisms by which it can be implemented in networks of spiking neurons are not fully understood. Here, we show that different learning rules emerge from a policy gradient approach depending on which features of the spike trains are assumed to influence the reward signals, i.e., depending on which neural code is in effect. We use the framework of Williams (1992) to derive learning rules for arbitrary neural codes. For illustration, we present policy-gradient rules for three different example codes - a spike count code, a spike timing code and the most general full spike train code - and test them on simple model problems. In addition to classical synaptic learning, we derive learning rules for intrinsic parameters that control the excitability of the neuron.


Neural Implementation of Hierarchical Bayesian Inference by Importance Sampling

Neural Information Processing Systems

The goal of perception is to infer the hidden states in the hierarchical process by which sensory data are generated. Human behavior is consistent with the optimal statistical solution to this problem in many tasks, including cue combination and orientation detection. Understanding the neural mechanisms underlying this behavior is of particular importance, since probabilistic computations are notoriously challenging. Here we propose a simple mechanism for Bayesian inference which involves averaging over a few feature detection neurons which fire at a rate determined by their similarity to a sensory stimulus. This mechanism is based on a Monte Carlo method known as importance sampling, commonly used in computer science and statistics.


STDP enables spiking neurons to detect hidden causes of their inputs

Neural Information Processing Systems

The principles by which spiking neurons contribute to the astounding computational power of generic cortical microcircuits, and how spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP) of synaptic weights could generate and maintain this computational function, are unknown. We show here that STDP, in conjunction with a stochastic soft winner-take-all (WTA) circuit, induces spiking neurons to generate through their synaptic weights implicit internal models for subclasses (or causes") of the high-dimensional spike patterns of hundreds of pre-synaptic neurons. Hence these neurons will fire after learning whenever the current input best matches their internal model. The resulting computational function of soft WTA circuits, a common network motif of cortical microcircuits, could therefore be a drastic dimensionality reduction of information streams, together with the autonomous creation of internal models for the probability distributions of their input patterns. We show that the autonomous generation and maintenance of this computational function can be explained on the basis of rigorous mathematical principles. In particular, we show that STDP is able to approximate a stochastic online Expectation-Maximization (EM) algorithm for modeling the input data. A corresponding result is shown for Hebbian learning in artificial neural networks."


Functional network reorganization in motor cortex can be explained by reward-modulated Hebbian learning

Neural Information Processing Systems

The control of neuroprosthetic devices from the activity of motor cortex neurons benefits from learning effects where the function of these neurons is adapted to the control task. It was recently shown that tuning properties of neurons in monkey motor cortex are adapted selectively in order to compensate for an erroneous interpretation of their activity. In particular, it was shown that the tuning curves of those neurons whose preferred directions had been misinterpreted changed more than those of other neurons. In this article, we show that the experimentally observed self-tuning properties of the system can be explained on the basis of a simple learning rule. This learning rule utilizes neuronal noise for exploration and performs Hebbian weight updates that are modulated by a global reward signal.