Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 12 (NIPS 1999)

*Panayiota Poirazi, Bartlett Mel*

Previous biophysical modeling work showed that nonlinear interac(cid:173) tions among nearby synapses located on active dendritic trees can provide a large boost in the memory capacity of a cell (Mel, 1992a, 1992b). The aim of our present work is to quantify this boost by estimating the capacity of (1) a neuron model with passive den(cid:173) dritic integration where inputs are combined linearly across the entire cell followed by a single global threshold, and (2) an active dendrite model in which a threshold is applied separately to the output of each branch, and the branch subtotals are combined lin(cid:173) early. We focus here on the limiting case of binary-valued synaptic weights, and derive expressions which measure model capacity by estimating the number of distinct input-output functions available to both neuron types. We show that (1) the application of a fixed nonlinearity to each dendritic compartment substantially increases the model's flexibility, (2) for a neuron of realistic size, the capacity of the nonlinear cell can exceed that of the same-sized linear cell by more than an order of magnitude, and (3) the largest capacity boost occurs for cells with a relatively large number of dendritic subunits of relatively small size. We validated the analysis by empirically measuring memory capacity with randomized two-class classifica(cid:173) tion problems, where a stochastic delta rule was used to train both linear and nonlinear models. We found that large capacity boosts predicted for the nonlinear dendritic model were readily achieved in practice.

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P. Poirazi and B. W. Mel

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