Understanding the functional and structural differences across excitatory and inhibitory neuronsDownload PDF

25 Sep 2019 (modified: 24 Dec 2019)ICLR 2020 Conference Blind SubmissionReaders: Everyone
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  • TL;DR: Deep nets with excitatory and inhibitory neurons developed functional and structural differences similar to the brain, and here's why.
  • Abstract: One of the most fundamental organizational principles of the brain is the separation of excitatory (E) and inhibitory (I) neurons. In addition to their opposing effects on post-synaptic neurons, E and I cells tend to differ in their selectivity and connectivity. Although many such differences have been characterized experimentally, it is not clear why they exist in the first place. We studied this question in deep networks equipped with E and I cells. We found that salient distinctions between E and I neurons emerge across various deep convolutional recurrent networks trained to perform standard object classification tasks. We explored the necessary conditions for the networks to develop distinct selectivity and connectivity across cell types. We found that neurons that project to higher-order areas will have greater stimulus selectivity, regardless of whether they are excitatory or not. Sparser connectivity is required for higher selectivity, but only when the recurrent connections are excitatory. These findings demonstrate that the functional and structural differences observed across E and I neurons are not independent, and can be explained using a smaller number of factors.
  • Code: https://anonymous.4open.science/repository/d0ae905f-4171-42b0-94b5-abf03d6414aa
  • Keywords: Neuroscience
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