A Neural Implementation of the Kalman Filter

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 22 (NIPS 2009)

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Robert Wilson, Leif Finkel


There is a growing body of experimental evidence to suggest that the brain is capable of approximating optimal Bayesian inference in the face of noisy input stimuli. Despite this progress, the neural underpinnings of this computation are still poorly understood. In this paper we focus on the problem of Bayesian filtering of stochastic time series. In particular we introduce a novel neural network, derived from a line attractor architecture, whose dynamics map directly onto those of the Kalman Filter in the limit where the prediction error is small. When the prediction error is large we show that the network responds robustly to change-points in a way that is qualitatively compatible with the optimal Bayesian model. The model suggests ways in which probability distributions are encoded in the brain and makes a number of testable experimental predictions.