Spike Frequency Adaptation Implements Anticipative Tracking in Continuous Attractor Neural Networks

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 27 (NIPS 2014)

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Yuanyuan Mi, C. C. Alan Fung, K. Y. Michael Wong, Si Wu


To extract motion information, the brain needs to compensate for time delays that are ubiquitous in neural signal transmission and processing. Here we propose a simple yet effective mechanism to implement anticipative tracking in neural systems. The proposed mechanism utilizes the property of spike-frequency adaptation (SFA), a feature widely observed in neuronal responses. We employ continuous attractor neural networks (CANNs) as the model to describe the tracking behaviors in neural systems. Incorporating SFA, a CANN exhibits intrinsic mobility, manifested by the ability of the CANN to hold self-sustained travelling waves. In tracking a moving stimulus, the interplay between the external drive and the intrinsic mobility of the network determines the tracking performance. Interestingly, we find that the regime of anticipation effectively coincides with the regime where the intrinsic speed of the travelling wave exceeds that of the external drive. Depending on the SFA amplitudes, the network can achieve either perfect tracking, with zero-lag to the input, or perfect anticipative tracking, with a constant leading time to the input. Our model successfully reproduces experimentally observed anticipative tracking behaviors, and sheds light on our understanding of how the brain processes motion information in a timely manner.