Published on Mon Jun 28 2021

Tootoonian, S., Schaefer, A. T., Latham, P. E.

Sensory processing is hard because the variables of interest are encoded in spike trains in a relatively complex way. Here we revisit a common encoding model in which variables are encoded linearly. We propose an algorithm that provably reaches the MAP (maximum a posteriori) inference solution.

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Sensory processing is hard because the variables of interest are encoded in spike trains in a relatively complex way. A major goal in studies of sensory processing is to understand how the brain extracts those variables. Here we revisit a common encoding model in which variables are encoded linearly. Although there are typically more variables than neurons, this problem is still solvable because only a small number of variables appear at any one time (sparse prior). However, previous solutions require all-to-all connectivity, inconsistent with the sparse connectivity seen in the brain. Here we propose an algorithm that provably reaches the MAP (maximum a posteriori) inference solution, but does so using sparse connectivity. Our algorithm is inspired by the circuit of the mouse olfactory bulb, but our approach is general enough to apply to other modalities. In addition, it should be possible to extend it to nonlinear encoding models.