Sensory Integration and Density Estimation

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

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Joseph G. Makin, Philip N. Sabes


The integration of partially redundant information from multiple sensors is a standard computational problem for agents interacting with the world. In man and other primates, integration has been shown psychophysically to be nearly optimal in the sense of error minimization. An influential generalization of this notion of optimality is that populations of multisensory neurons should retain all the information from their unisensory afferents about the underlying, common stimulus [1]. More recently, it was shown empirically that a neural network trained to perform latent-variable density estimation, with the activities of the unisensory neurons as observed data, satisfies the information-preservation criterion, even though the model architecture was not designed to match the true generative process for the data [2]. We prove here an analytical connection between these seemingly different tasks, density estimation and sensory integration; that the former implies the latter for the model used in [2]; but that this does not appear to be true for all models.