Neural Data Transformer 2: Multi-context Pretraining for Neural Spiking Activity

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Joel Ye, Jennifer Collinger, Leila Wehbe, Robert Gaunt


The neural population spiking activity recorded by intracortical brain-computer interfaces (iBCIs) contain rich structure. Current models of such spiking activity are largely prepared for individual experimental contexts, restricting data volume to that collectable within a single session and limiting the effectiveness of deep neural networks (DNNs). The purported challenge in aggregating neural spiking data is the pervasiveness of context-dependent shifts in the neural data distributions. However, large scale unsupervised pretraining by nature spans heterogeneous data, and has proven to be a fundamental recipe for successful representation learning across deep learning. We thus develop Neural Data Transformer 2 (NDT2), a spatiotemporal Transformer for neural spiking activity, and demonstrate that pretraining can leverage motor BCI datasets that span sessions, subjects, and experimental tasks. NDT2 enables rapid adaptation to novel contexts in downstream decoding tasks and opens the path to deployment of pretrained DNNs for iBCI control. Code: