Stefan Habenschuss, Johannes Bill, Bernhard Nessler
Recent spiking network models of Bayesian inference and unsupervised learning frequently assume either inputs to arrive in a special format or employ complex computations in neuronal activation functions and synaptic plasticity rules. Here we show in a rigorous mathematical treatment how homeostatic processes, which have previously received little attention in this context, can overcome common theoretical limitations and facilitate the neural implementation and performance of existing models. In particular, we show that homeostatic plasticity can be understood as the enforcement of a 'balancing' posterior constraint during probabilistic inference and learning with Expectation Maximization. We link homeostatic dynamics to the theory of variational inference, and show that nontrivial terms, which typically appear during probabilistic inference in a large class of models, drop out. We demonstrate the feasibility of our approach in a spiking Winner-Take-All architecture of Bayesian inference and learning. Finally, we sketch how the mathematical framework can be extended to richer recurrent network architectures. Altogether, our theory provides a novel perspective on the interplay of homeostatic processes and synaptic plasticity in cortical microcircuits, and points to an essential role of homeostasis during inference and learning in spiking networks.