## Orals & Spotlights Track 29: Neuroscience

Each Oral includes Q&ASpotlights have joint Q&As

### Time

2020-12-10T06:00:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T09:00:00-08:00### Session chairs

Aasa Feragen, Thomas Serre### Video

### Chat

### Chat is not available.

### Schedule

2020-12-10T06:00:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T06:15:00-08:00

##### 1 - Oral: Learning abstract structure for drawing by efficient motor program induction

Lucas Tian, Kevin Ellis, Marta Kryven, Josh Tenenbaum

Humans flexibly solve new problems that differ from those previously practiced. This ability to flexibly generalize is supported by learned concepts that represent useful structure common across different problems. Here we develop a naturalistic drawing task to study how humans rapidly acquire structured prior knowledge. The task requires drawing visual figures that share underlying structure, based on a set of composable geometric rules and simple objects. We show that people spontaneously learn abstract drawing procedures that support generalization, and propose a model of how learners can discover these reusable drawing procedures. Trained in the same setting as humans, and constrained to produce efficient motor actions, this model discovers new drawing program subroutines that generalize to test figures and resemble learned features of human behavior. These results suggest that two principles guiding motor program induction in the model - abstraction (programs can reflect high-level structure that ignores figure-specific details) and compositionality (new programs are discovered by recombining previously learned programs) - are key for explaining how humans learn structured internal representations that guide flexible reasoning and learning.

2020-12-10T06:15:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T06:30:00-08:00

##### 2 - Oral: Non-reversible Gaussian processes for identifying latent dynamical structure in neural data

Virginia Rutten, Alberto Bernacchia, Maneesh Sahani, Guillaume Hennequin

A common goal in the analysis of neural data is to compress large population recordings into sets of interpretable, low-dimensional latent trajectories. This problem can be approached using Gaussian process (GP)-based methods which provide uncertainty quantification and principled model selection. However, standard GP priors do not distinguish between underlying dynamical processes and other forms of temporal autocorrelation. Here, we propose a new family of “dynamical” priors over trajectories, in the form of GP covariance functions that express a property shared by most dynamical systems: temporal non-reversibility. Non-reversibility is a universal signature of autonomous dynamical systems whose state trajectories follow consistent flow fields, such that any observed trajectory could not occur in reverse. Our new multi-output GP kernels can be used as drop-in replacements for standard kernels in multivariate regression, but also in latent variable models such as Gaussian process factor analysis (GPFA). We therefore introduce GPFADS (Gaussian Process Factor Analysis with Dynamical Structure), which models single-trial neural population activity using low-dimensional, non-reversible latent processes. Unlike previously proposed non-reversible multi-output kernels, ours admits a Kronecker factorization enabling fast and memory-efficient learning and inference. We apply GPFADS to synthetic data and show that it correctly recovers ground truth phase portraits. GPFADS also provides a probabilistic generalization of jPCA, a method originally developed for identifying latent rotational dynamics in neural data. When applied to monkey M1 neural recordings, GPFADS discovers latent trajectories with strong dynamical structure in the form of rotations.

2020-12-10T06:30:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T06:45:00-08:00

##### 3 - Oral: Gibbs Sampling with People

Peter Harrison, Raja Marjieh, Fede G Adolfi, Pol van Rijn, Manuel Anglada-Tort, Ofer Tchernichovski, Pauline Larrouy-Maestri, Nori Jacoby

A core problem in cognitive science and machine learning is to understand how humans derive semantic representations from perceptual objects, such as color from an apple, pleasantness from a musical chord, or seriousness from a face. Markov Chain Monte Carlo with People (MCMCP) is a prominent method for studying such representations, in which participants are presented with binary choice trials constructed such that the decisions follow a Markov Chain Monte Carlo acceptance rule. However, while MCMCP has strong asymptotic properties, its binary choice paradigm generates relatively little information per trial, and its local proposal function makes it slow to explore the parameter space and find the modes of the distribution. Here we therefore generalize MCMCP to a continuous-sampling paradigm, where in each iteration the participant uses a slider to continuously manipulate a single stimulus dimension to optimize a given criterion such as ‘pleasantness’. We formulate both methods from a utility-theory perspective, and show that the new method can be interpreted as ‘Gibbs Sampling with People’ (GSP). Further, we introduce an aggregation parameter to the transition step, and show that this parameter can be manipulated to flexibly shift between Gibbs sampling and deterministic optimization. In an initial study, we show GSP clearly outperforming MCMCP; we then show that GSP provides novel and interpretable results in three other domains, namely musical chords, vocal emotions, and faces. We validate these results through large-scale perceptual rating experiments. The final experiments use GSP to navigate the latent space of a state-of-the-art image synthesis network (StyleGAN), a promising approach for applying GSP to high-dimensional perceptual spaces. We conclude by discussing future cognitive applications and ethical implications.

2020-12-10T06:45:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T07:00:00-08:00

##### Break

2020-12-10T07:00:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T07:10:00-08:00

##### 5 - Spotlight: Stable and expressive recurrent vision models

Drew Linsley, Alekh Karkada Ashok, Lakshmi Narasimhan Govindarajan, Rex Liu, Thomas Serre

Primate vision depends on recurrent processing for reliable perception. A growing body of literature also suggests that recurrent connections improve the learning efficiency and generalization of vision models on classic computer vision challenges. Why then, are current large-scale challenges dominated by feedforward networks? We posit that the effectiveness of recurrent vision models is bottlenecked by the standard algorithm used for training them, "back-propagation through time" (BPTT), which has O(N) memory-complexity for training an N step model. Thus, recurrent vision model design is bounded by memory constraints, forcing a choice between rivaling the enormous capacity of leading feedforward models or trying to compensate for this deficit through granular and complex dynamics. Here, we develop a new learning algorithm, "contractor recurrent back-propagation" (C-RBP), which alleviates these issues by achieving constant O(1) memory-complexity with steps of recurrent processing. We demonstrate that recurrent vision models trained with C-RBP can detect long-range spatial dependencies in a synthetic contour tracing task that BPTT-trained models cannot. We further show that recurrent vision models trained with C-RBP to solve the large-scale Panoptic Segmentation MS-COCO challenge outperform the leading feedforward approach, with fewer free parameters. C-RBP is a general-purpose learning algorithm for any application that can benefit from expansive recurrent dynamics. Code and data are available at https://github.com/c-rbp.

2020-12-10T07:10:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T07:20:00-08:00

##### 6 - Spotlight: Identifying Learning Rules From Neural Network Observables

Aran Nayebi, Sanjana Srivastava, Surya Ganguli, Daniel Yamins

The brain modifies its synaptic strengths during learning in order to better adapt to its environment. However, the underlying plasticity rules that govern learning are unknown. Many proposals have been suggested, including Hebbian mechanisms, explicit error backpropagation, and a variety of alternatives. It is an open question as to what specific experimental measurements would need to be made to determine whether any given learning rule is operative in a real biological system. In this work, we take a "virtual experimental" approach to this problem. Simulating idealized neuroscience experiments with artificial neural networks, we generate a large-scale dataset of learning trajectories of aggregate statistics measured in a variety of neural network architectures, loss functions, learning rule hyperparameters, and parameter initializations. We then take a discriminative approach, training linear and simple non-linear classifiers to identify learning rules from features based on these observables. We show that different classes of learning rules can be separated solely on the basis of aggregate statistics of the weights, activations, or instantaneous layer-wise activity changes, and that these results generalize to limited access to the trajectory and held-out architectures and learning curricula. We identify the statistics of each observable that are most relevant for rule identification, finding that statistics from network activities across training are more robust to unit undersampling and measurement noise than those obtained from the synaptic strengths. Our results suggest that activation patterns, available from electrophysiological recordings of post-synaptic activities on the order of several hundred units, frequently measured at wider intervals over the course of learning, may provide a good basis on which to identify learning rules.

2020-12-10T07:20:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T07:30:00-08:00

##### 7 - Spotlight: A new inference approach for training shallow and deep generalized linear models of noisy interacting neurons

Gabriel Mahuas, Giulio Isacchini, Olivier Marre, Ulisse Ferrari, Thierry Mora

Generalized linear models are one of the most efficient paradigms for predicting the correlated stochastic activity of neuronal networks in response to external stimuli, with applications in many brain areas. However, when dealing with complex stimuli, the inferred coupling parameters often do not generalise across different stimulus statistics, leading to degraded performance and blowup instabilities. Here, we develop a two-step inference strategy that allows us to train robust generalised linear models of interacting neurons, by explicitly separating the effects of correlations in the stimulus from network interactions in each training step. Applying this approach to the responses of retinal ganglion cells to complex visual stimuli, we show that, compared to classical methods, the models trained in this way exhibit improved performance, are more stable, yield robust interaction networks, and generalise well across complex visual statistics. The method can be extended to deep convolutional neural networks, leading to models with high predictive accuracy for both the neuron firing rates and their correlations.

2020-12-10T07:30:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T07:40:00-08:00

##### 8 - Spotlight: Modeling Shared responses in Neuroimaging Studies through MultiView ICA

Hugo Richard, Luigi Gresele, Aapo Hyvarinen, Bertrand Thirion, Alexandre Gramfort, Pierre Ablin

Group studies involving large cohorts of subjects are important to draw general conclusions about brain functional organization. However, the aggregation of data coming from multiple subjects is challenging, since it requires accounting for large variability in anatomy, functional topography and stimulus response across individuals. Data modeling is especially hard for ecologically relevant conditions such as movie watching, where the experimental setup does not imply well-defined cognitive operations. We propose a novel MultiView Independent Component Analysis (ICA) model for group studies, where data from each subject are modeled as a linear combination of shared independent sources plus noise. Contrary to most group-ICA procedures, the likelihood of the model is available in closed form. We develop an alternate quasi-Newton method for maximizing the likelihood, which is robust and converges quickly. We demonstrate the usefulness of our approach first on fMRI data, where our model demonstrates improved sensitivity in identifying common sources among subjects. Moreover, the sources recovered by our model exhibit lower between-sessions variability than other methods. On magnetoencephalography (MEG) data, our method yields more accurate source localization on phantom data. Applied on 200 subjects from the Cam-CAN dataset, it reveals a clear sequence of evoked activity in sensor and source space.

2020-12-10T07:40:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T07:50:00-08:00

##### Q&A: Joint Q&A for Preceeding Spotlights

2020-12-10T07:50:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T08:00:00-08:00

##### 10 - Spotlight: Patch2Self: Denoising Diffusion MRI with Self-Supervised Learning

Shreyas Fadnavis, Joshua Batson, Eleftherios Garyfallidis

Diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (DWI) is the only non-invasive method for quantifying microstructure and reconstructing white-matter pathways in the living human brain. Fluctuations from multiple sources create significant noise in DWI data which must be suppressed before subsequent microstructure analysis. We introduce a self-supervised learning method for denoising DWI data, Patch2Self, which uses the entire volume to learn a full-rank locally linear denoiser for that volume. By taking advantage of the oversampled q-space of DWI data, Patch2Self can separate structure from noise without requiring an explicit model for either. We demonstrate the effectiveness of Patch2Self via quantitative and qualitative improvements in microstructure modeling, tracking (via fiber bundle coherency) and model estimation relative to other unsupervised methods on real and simulated data.

2020-12-10T08:00:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T08:10:00-08:00

##### 11 - Spotlight: Uncovering the Topology of Time-Varying fMRI Data using Cubical Persistence

Bastian Rieck, Tristan Yates, Christian Bock, Karsten Borgwardt, Guy Wolf, Nicholas Turk-Browne, Smita Krishnaswamy

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a crucial technology for gaining insights into cognitive processes in humans. Data amassed from fMRI measurements result in volumetric data sets that vary over time. However, analysing such data presents a challenge due to the large degree of noise and person-to-person variation in how information is represented in the brain. To address this challenge, we present a novel topological approach that encodes each time point in an fMRI data set as a persistence diagram of topological features, i.e. high-dimensional voids present in the data. This representation naturally does not rely on voxel-by-voxel correspondence and is robust towards noise. We show that these time-varying persistence diagrams can be clustered to find meaningful groupings between participants, and that they are also useful in studying within-subject brain state trajectories of subjects performing a particular task. Here, we apply both clustering and trajectory analysis techniques to a group of participants watching the movie 'Partly Cloudy'. We observe significant differences in both brain state trajectories and overall topological activity between adults and children watching the same movie.

2020-12-10T08:10:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T08:20:00-08:00

##### 12 - Spotlight: System Identification with Biophysical Constraints: A Circuit Model of the Inner Retina

Cornelius Schröder, David Klindt, Sarah Strauss, Katrin Franke, Matthias Bethge, Thomas Euler, Philipp Berens

Visual processing in the retina has been studied in great detail at all levels such that a comprehensive picture of the retina's cell types and the many neural circuits they form is emerging. However, the currently best performing models of retinal function are black-box CNN models which are agnostic to such biological knowledge. In particular, these models typically neglect the role of the many inhibitory circuits involving amacrine cells and the biophysical mechanisms underlying synaptic release. Here, we present a computational model of temporal processing in the inner retina, including inhibitory feedback circuits and realistic synaptic release mechanisms. Fit to the responses of bipolar cells, the model generalized well to new stimuli including natural movie sequences, performing on par with or better than a benchmark black-box model. In pharmacology experiments, the model replicated in silico the effect of blocking specific amacrine cell populations with high fidelity, indicating that it had learned key circuit functions. Also, more in depth comparisons showed that connectivity patterns learned by the model were well matched to connectivity patterns extracted from connectomics data. Thus, our model provides a biologically interpretable data-driven account of temporal processing in the inner retina, filling the gap between purely black-box and detailed biophysical modeling.

2020-12-10T08:20:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T08:30:00-08:00

##### 13 - Spotlight: A meta-learning approach to (re)discover plasticity rules that carve a desired function into a neural network

Basile Confavreux, Friedemann Zenke, Everton Agnes, Timothy Lillicrap, Tim Vogels

The search for biologically faithful synaptic plasticity rules has resulted in a large body of models. They are usually inspired by -- and fitted to -- experimental data, but they rarely produce neural dynamics that serve complex functions. These failures suggest that current plasticity models are still under-constrained by existing data. Here, we present an alternative approach that uses meta-learning to discover plausible synaptic plasticity rules. Instead of experimental data, the rules are constrained by the functions they implement and the structure they are meant to produce. Briefly, we parameterize synaptic plasticity rules by a Volterra expansion and then use supervised learning methods (gradient descent or evolutionary strategies) to minimize a problem-dependent loss function that quantifies how effectively a candidate plasticity rule transforms an initially random network into one with the desired function. We first validate our approach by re-discovering previously described plasticity rules, starting at the single-neuron level and ``Oja’s rule'', a simple Hebbian plasticity rule that captures the direction of most variability of inputs to a neuron (i.e., the first principal component). We expand the problem to the network level and ask the framework to find Oja’s rule together with an anti-Hebbian rule such that an initially random two-layer firing-rate network will recover several principal components of the input space after learning. Next, we move to networks of integrate-and-fire neurons with plastic inhibitory afferents. We train for rules that achieve a target firing rate by countering tuned excitation. Our algorithm discovers a specific subset of the manifold of rules that can solve this task. Our work is a proof of principle of an automated and unbiased approach to unveil synaptic plasticity rules that obey biological constraints and can solve complex functions.

2020-12-10T08:30:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T08:40:00-08:00

##### Q&A: Joint Q&A for Preceeding Spotlights

2020-12-10T08:40:00-08:00 - 2020-12-10T09:00:00-08:00