Enforcing balance allows local supervised learning in spiking recurrent networks

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 28 (NIPS 2015)

Bibtex Metadata Paper Reviews Supplemental


Ralph Bourdoukan, Sophie Denève


To predict sensory inputs or control motor trajectories, the brain must constantly learn temporal dynamics based on error feedback. However, it remains unclear how such supervised learning is implemented in biological neural networks. Learning in recurrent spiking networks is notoriously difficult because local changes in connectivity may have an unpredictable effect on the global dynamics. The most commonly used learning rules, such as temporal back-propagation, are not local and thus not biologically plausible. Furthermore, reproducing the Poisson-like statistics of neural responses requires the use of networks with balanced excitation and inhibition. Such balance is easily destroyed during learning. Using a top-down approach, we show how networks of integrate-and-fire neurons can learn arbitrary linear dynamical systems by feeding back their error as a feed-forward input. The network uses two types of recurrent connections: fast and slow. The fast connections learn to balance excitation and inhibition using a voltage-based plasticity rule. The slow connections are trained to minimize the error feedback using a current-based Hebbian learning rule. Importantly, the balance maintained by fast connections is crucial to ensure that global error signals are available locally in each neuron, in turn resulting in a local learning rule for the slow connections. This demonstrates that spiking networks can learn complex dynamics using purely local learning rules, using E/I balance as the key rather than an additional constraint. The resulting network implements a given function within the predictive coding scheme, with minimal dimensions and activity.