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Learning efficient task-dependent representations with synaptic plasticity
Colin Bredenberg · Eero Simoncelli · Cristina Savin

Thu Dec 10 09:00 AM -- 11:00 AM (PST) @ Poster Session 5 #1677

Neural populations encode the sensory world imperfectly: their capacity is limited by the number of neurons, availability of metabolic and other biophysical resources, and intrinsic noise. The brain is presumably shaped by these limitations, improving efficiency by discarding some aspects of incoming sensory streams, while preferentially preserving commonly occurring, behaviorally-relevant information. Here we construct a stochastic recurrent neural circuit model that can learn efficient, task-specific sensory codes using a novel form of reward-modulated Hebbian synaptic plasticity. We illustrate the flexibility of the model by training an initially unstructured neural network to solve two different tasks: stimulus estimation, and stimulus discrimination. The network achieves high performance in both tasks by appropriately allocating resources and using its recurrent circuitry to best compensate for different levels of noise. We also show how the interaction between stimulus priors and task structure dictates the emergent network representations.

Author Information

Colin Bredenberg (New York University)
Eero Simoncelli (FlatIron Institute / New York University)

Eero P. Simoncelli received the B.S. degree in Physics in 1984 from Harvard University, studied applied mathematics at Cambridge University for a year and a half, and then received the M.S. degree in 1988 and the Ph.D. degree in 1993, both in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was an Assistant Professor in the Computer and Information Science department at the University of Pennsylvania from 1993 until 1996. He moved to New York University in September of 1996, where he is currently a Professor in Neural Science, Mathematics, and Psychology. In August 2000, he became an Associate Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, under their new program in Computational Biology. In Fall 2020, he resigned his HHMI appointment to become the scientific director of the Center for Computational Neuroscience at the Flatiron Institute, of the Simons Foundation. His research interests span a wide range of topics in the representation and analysis of visual images, in both machine and biological systems.

Cristina Savin (NYU)

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