Learning precise spatiotemporal sequences via biophysically realistic neural circuits with modular structure
Shouval, Harel; Pitkow, Xaq
Master of Science
The ability to express and learn temporal sequences is an essential part of neural learning and memory. Learned temporal sequences are expressed in multiple brain regions and as such there may be common design in the circuits that mediate it. This thesis proposes a substrate for such representations, via a biophysically realistic network model that can robustly learn and recall discrete sequences of variable order and duration. The model consists of a network of spiking leaky-integrate-and-fire model neurons placed in a modular architecture designed to resemble cortical microcolumns. Learning is performed via a learning rule with “eligibility traces”, which hold a history of synaptic activity before being converted into changes in synaptic strength upon neuromodulator activation. Before training, the network responds to incoming stimuli, and contains no memory of any particular sequence. After training, presentation of only the first element in that sequence is sufficient for the network to recall an entire learned representation of the sequence. An extended version of the model also demonstrates the ability to successfully learn and recall non-Markovian sequences. This model provides a possible framework for biologically realistic sequence learning and memory, and is in agreement with recent experimental results, which have shown sequence dependent plasticity in sensory cortex.