Keywords: [ calcium plateau ] [ cortical hierarchy ] [ biologically plausible ] [ biologically realistic ] [ predictive coding ]
Predictive coding (PC) has emerged as an influential normative model of neural computation with numerous extensions and applications. As such, much effort has been put into mapping PC faithfully onto the cortex, but there are issues that remain unresolved or controversial. In particular, current implementations often involve separate value and error neurons and require symmetric forward and backward weights across different brain regions. These features have not been experimentally confirmed. In this work, we show that the PC framework in the linear regime can be modified to map faithfully onto the cortical hierarchy in a manner compatible with empirical observations. By employing a disentangling-inspired constraint on hidden-layer neural activities, we derive an upper bound for the PC objective. Optimization of this upper bound leads to an algorithm that shows the same performance as the original objective and maps onto a biologically plausible network. The units of this network can be interpreted as multi-compartmental neurons with non-Hebbian learning rules, with a remarkable resemblance to recent experimental findings. There exist prior models which also capture these features, but they are phenomenological, while our work is a normative derivation. This allows us to determine which features are necessary for the functioning of the model. For instance, the network we derive does not involve one-to-one connectivity or signal multiplexing, which the phenomenological models require, indicating that these features are not necessary for learning in the cortex. The normative nature of our algorithm in the simplified linear case also allows us to prove interesting properties of the framework and analytically understand the computational role of our network's components. The parameters of our network have natural interpretations as physiological quantities in a multi-compartmental model of pyramidal neurons, providing a concrete link between PC and experimental measurements carried out in the cortex.