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Multi-modal Gaussian Process Variational Autoencoders for Neural and Behavioral Data

Rabia Gondur · Usama Bin Sikandar · Evan Schaffer · Mikio Aoi · Stephen Keeley

Halle B #58
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Tue 7 May 7:30 a.m. PDT — 9:30 a.m. PDT


Characterizing the relationship between neural population activity and behavioral data is a central goal of neuroscience. While latent variable models (LVMs) are successful in describing high-dimensional data, they are typically only designed for a single type of data, making it difficult to identify structure shared across different experimental data modalities. Here, we address this shortcoming by proposing an unsupervised LVM which extracts shared and independent latents for distinct, simultaneously recorded experimental modalities. We do this by combining Gaussian Process Factor Analysis (GPFA), an interpretable LVM for neural spiking data with temporally smooth latent space, with Gaussian Process Variational Autoencoders (GP-VAEs), which similarly use a GP prior to characterize correlations in a latent space, but admit rich expressivity due to a deep neural network mapping to observations. We achieve interpretability in our model by partitioning latent variability into components that are either shared between or independent to each modality. We parameterize the latents of our model in the Fourier domain, and show improved latent identification using this approach over standard GP-VAE methods. We validate our model on simulated multi-modal data consisting of Poisson spike counts and MNIST images that scale and rotate smoothly over time. We show that the multi-modal GP-VAE (MM-GPVAE) is able to not only identify the shared and independent latent structure across modalities accurately, but provides good reconstructions of both images and neural rates on held-out trials. Finally, we demonstrate our framework on two real world multi-modal experimental settings: Drosophila whole-brain calcium imaging alongside tracked limb positions, and Manduca sexta spike train measurements from ten wing muscles as the animal tracks a visual stimulus.

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