Qianyi Li, Cengiz Pehlevan
Excitation-inhibition balance is ubiquitously observed in the cortex. Recent studies suggest an intriguing link between balance on fast timescales, tight balance, and efficient information coding with spikes. We further this connection by taking a principled approach to optimal balanced networks of excitatory (E) and inhibitory(I) neurons. By deriving E-I spiking neural networks from greedy spike-based optimizations of constrained minimax objectives, we show that tight balance arises from correcting for deviations from the minimax optimum. We predict specific neuron firing rates in the networks by solving the minimax problems, going beyond statistical theories of balanced networks. We design minimax objectives for reconstruction of an input signal, associative memory, and storage of manifold attractors, and derive from them E-I networks that perform the computation. Overall, we present a novel normative modeling approach for spiking E-I networks, going beyond the widely-used energy-minimizing networks that violate Dale’s law. Our networks can be used to model cortical circuits and computations.