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Single-phase deep learning in cortico-cortical networks
Will Greedy · Heng Wei Zhu · Joseph Pemberton · Jack Mellor · Rui Ponte Costa

Tue Nov 29 02:00 PM -- 04:00 PM (PST) @ Hall J #624

The error-backpropagation (backprop) algorithm remains the most common solution to the credit assignment problem in artificial neural networks. In neuroscience, it is unclear whether the brain could adopt a similar strategy to correctly modify its synapses. Recent models have attempted to bridge this gap while being consistent with a range of experimental observations. However, these models are either unable to effectively backpropagate error signals across multiple layers or require a multi-phase learning process, neither of which are reminiscent of learning in the brain. Here, we introduce a new model, Bursting Cortico-Cortical Networks (BurstCCN), which solves these issues by integrating known properties of cortical networks namely bursting activity, short-term plasticity (STP) and dendrite-targeting interneurons. BurstCCN relies on burst multiplexing via connection-type-specific STP to propagate backprop-like error signals within deep cortical networks. These error signals are encoded at distal dendrites and induce burst-dependent plasticity as a result of excitatory-inhibitory top-down inputs. First, we demonstrate that our model can effectively backpropagate errors through multiple layers using a single-phase learning process. Next, we show both empirically and analytically that learning in our model approximates backprop-derived gradients. Finally, we demonstrate that our model is capable of learning complex image classification tasks (MNIST and CIFAR-10). Overall, our results suggest that cortical features across sub-cellular, cellular, microcircuit and systems levels jointly underlie single-phase efficient deep learning in the brain.

Author Information

Will Greedy (University of Bristol)
Heng Wei Zhu (University of Bristol)
Joseph Pemberton (University of Bristol)
Jack Mellor (University of Bristol)
Rui Ponte Costa (University of Bristol)

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