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Spotlight Poster

Complex priors and flexible inference in recurrent circuits with dendritic nonlinearities

Benjamin Lyo · Cristina Savin

Halle B #58
[ ] [ Project Page ]
Thu 9 May 7:30 a.m. PDT — 9:30 a.m. PDT


Despite many successful examples in which probabilistic inference can account for perception, we have little understanding of how the brain represents and uses structured priors that capture the complexity of natural input statistics. Here we construct a recurrent circuit model that can implicitly represent priors over latent variables, and combine them with sensory and contextual sources of information to encode task-specific posteriors. Inspired by the recent success of diffusion models as means of learning and using priors over images, our model uses dendritic nonlinearities optimized for denoising, and stochastic somatic integration with the degree of noise modulated by an oscillating global signal. Combining these elements into a recurrent network yields a stochastic dynamical system that samples from the prior at a rate prescribed by the period of the global oscillator. Additional inputs reflecting sensory or top-down contextual information alter these dynamics to generate samples from the corresponding posterior, with different input gating patterns selecting different inference tasks. We demonstrate that this architecture can sample from low dimensional nonlinear manifolds and multimodal posteriors. Overall, the model provides a new framework for circuit-level representation of probabilistic information, in a format that facilitates flexible inference.

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