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ref: -2020 tags: current opinion in neurobiology Kriegeskorte review article deep learning neural nets circles date: 02-23-2021 17:40 gmt revision:2 [1] [0] [head]

Going in circles is the way forward: the role of recurrence in visual inference

I think the best part of this article are the references -- a nicely complete listing of, well, the current opinion in Neurobiology! (Note that this issue is edited by our own Karel Svoboda, hence there are a good number of Janelians in the author list..)

The gestalt of the review is that deep neural networks need to be recurrent, not purely feed-forward. This results in savings in overall network size, and increase in the achievable computational complexity, perhaps via the incorporation of priors and temporal-spatial information. All this again makes perfect sense and matches my sense of prevailing opinion. Of course, we are left wanting more: all this recurrence ought to be structured in some way.

To me, a rather naive way of thinking about it is that feed-forward layers cause weak activations, which are 'amplified' or 'selected for' in downstream neurons. These neurons proximally code for 'causes' or local reasons, based on the supported hypothesis that the brain has a good temporal-spatial model of the visuo-motor world. The causes then can either explain away the visual input, leading to balanced E-I, or fail to explain it, in which the excess activity is either rectified by engaging more circuits or engaging synaptic plasticity.

A critical part of this hypothesis is some degree of binding / disentanglement / spatio-temporal re-assignment. While not all models of computation require registers / variables -- RNNs are Turning-complete, e.g., I remain stuck on the idea that, to explain phenomenological experience and practical cognition, the brain much have some means of 'binding'. A reasonable place to look is the apical tuft dendrites, which are capable of storing temporary state (calcium spikes, NMDA spikes), undergo rapid synaptic plasticity, and are so dense that they can reasonably store the outer-product space of binding.

There is mounting evidence for apical tufts working independently / in parallel is investigations of high-gamma in ECoG: PMID-32851172 Dissociation of broadband high-frequency activity and neuronal firing in the neocortex. "High gamma" shows little correlation with MUA when you differentiate early-deep and late-superficial responses, "consistent with the view it reflects dendritic processing separable from local neuronal firing"