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Poster
Impression learning: Online representation learning with synaptic plasticity
Colin Bredenberg · Benjamin Lyo · Eero Simoncelli · Cristina Savin

Tue Dec 07 08:30 AM -- 10:00 AM (PST) @

Understanding how the brain constructs statistical models of the sensory world remains a longstanding challenge for computational neuroscience. Here, we derive an unsupervised local synaptic plasticity rule that trains neural circuits to infer latent structure from sensory stimuli via a novel loss function for approximate online Bayesian inference. The learning algorithm is driven by a local error signal computed between two factors that jointly contribute to neural activity: stimulus drive and internal predictions --- the network's 'impression' of the stimulus. Physiologically, we associate these two components with the basal and apical dendrites of pyramidal neurons, respectively. We show that learning can be implemented online, is capable of capturing temporal dependencies in continuous input streams, and generalizes to hierarchical architectures. Furthermore, we demonstrate both analytically and empirically that the algorithm is more data-efficient than a three-factor plasticity alternative, enabling it to learn statistics of high-dimensional, naturalistic inputs. Overall, the model provides a bridge from mechanistic accounts of synaptic plasticity to algorithmic descriptions of unsupervised probabilistic learning and inference.

Author Information

Colin Bredenberg (New York University)
Benjamin Lyo (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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