Random Projection in the Brain and Computation with Assemblies of Neurons

Christos H. Papadimitriou, Santosh S. Vempala, Michael Wagner
2018 Innovations in Theoretical Computer Science  
It has been recently shown via simulations [8] that random projection followed by a cap operation (setting to one the k largest elements of a vector and everything else to zero), a map believed to be an important part of the insect olfactory system, has strong locality sensitivity properties. We calculate the asymptotic law whereby the overlap in the input vectors is conserved, verifying mathematically this empirical finding. We then focus on the far more complex homologous operation in the
more » ... alian brain, the creation through successive projections and caps of an assembly (roughly, a set of excitatory neurons representing a memory or concept) in the presence of recurrent synapses and plasticity. After providing a careful definition of assemblies, we prove that the operation of assembly projection converges with high probability, over the randomness of synaptic connectivity, even if plasticity is relatively small (previous proofs relied on high plasticity). We also show that assembly projection has itself some locality preservation properties. Finally, we propose a large repertoire of assembly operations, including associate, merge, reciprocal project, and append, each of them both biologically plausible and consistent with what we know from experiments, and show that this computational system is capable of simulating, again with high probability, arbitrary computation in a quite natural way. We hope that this novel way of looking at brain computation, open-ended and based on reasonably mainstream ideas in neuroscience, may prove an attractive entry point for computer scientists to work on understanding the brain.
doi:10.4230/lipics.itcs.2019.57 dblp:conf/innovations/PapadimitriouV19 fatcat:vzxubq4bz5czxoc5ndc427om4u