Blindfold learning of an accurate neural metric

Christophe Gardella, Olivier Marre, Thierry Mora
2018 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America  
The brain has no direct access to physical stimuli, but only to the spiking activity evoked in sensory organs. It is unclear how the brain can structure its representation of the world based on differences between those noisy, correlated responses alone. Here we show how to build a distance map of responses from the structure of the population activity of retinal ganglion cells, allowing for the accurate discrimination of distinct visual stimuli from the retinal response. We introduce the
more » ... al Restricted Boltzmann Machine to learn the spatiotemporal structure of the population activity, and use this model to define a distance between spike trains. We show that this metric outperforms existing neural distances at discriminating pairs of stimuli that are barely distinguishable. The proposed method provides a generic and biologically plausible way to learn to associate similar stimuli based on their spiking responses, without any other knowledge of these stimuli.
doi:10.1073/pnas.1718710115 pmid:29531065 fatcat:aaz47nggqrdfdhirtpxgv4d7vm