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Fine-tuning hierarchical circuits through learned stochastic co-modulation
Caroline Haimerl · Eero Simoncelli · Cristina Savin
Event URL: https://app.sli.do/event/bayr24RBpGdcveCqzPfdR6 »

Attentional gating is a core mechanism supporting behavioral flexibility, but its biological implementation remains uncertain. Gain modulation of neural responses is likely to play a key role, but simply boosting relevant neural responses can be insufficient for improving behavioral outputs, especially in hierarchical circuits. Here we propose a variation of attentional gating that relies on stochastic gain modulation as a dedicated indicator of task relevance. We show that targeted stochastic modulation can be effectively learned and used to fine-tune hierarchical architectures, without reorganization of the underlying circuits. Simulations of such networks demonstrate improvements in learning efficiency and performance in novel tasks, relative to traditional attentional mechanisms based on deterministic gain increases. The effectiveness of this approach relies on the availability of representational bottlenecks in which the task relevant information is localized in small subpopulations of neurons. Overall, this work provides a new mechanism for constructing intelligent systems that can flexibly and robustly adapt to changes in task structure.

Author Information

Caroline Haimerl (Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown)
Eero Simoncelli (FlatIron Institute / New York University)

Eero P. Simoncelli received the B.S. degree in Physics in 1984 from Harvard University, studied applied mathematics at Cambridge University for a year and a half, and then received the M.S. degree in 1988 and the Ph.D. degree in 1993, both in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was an Assistant Professor in the Computer and Information Science department at the University of Pennsylvania from 1993 until 1996. He moved to New York University in September of 1996, where he is currently a Professor in Neural Science, Mathematics, and Psychology. In August 2000, he became an Associate Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, under their new program in Computational Biology. In Fall 2020, he resigned his HHMI appointment to become the scientific director of the Center for Computational Neuroscience at the Flatiron Institute, of the Simons Foundation. His research interests span a wide range of topics in the representation and analysis of visual images, in both machine and biological systems.

Cristina Savin (NYU)

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