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TU Berlin

Inhalt des Dokuments

Neural Information Processing Group

We are concerned with the principles underlying information processing in biological systems. On the one hand we want to understand how the brain computes, on the other hand we want to utilize the strategies employed by biological systems for machine learning applications. Our research interests cover three thematic areas.

Models of Neuronal Systems:

Lupe

In collaboration with neurobiologists and clinicians we study how the visual system processes visual information. Research topics include: cortical dynamics, the representation of visual information, adaptation and plasticity, and the role of feedback. More recently we became interested in how perception is linked to cognitive function, and we began to study computational models of decision making in uncertain environments, and how those processes interact with perception and memory.

Machine Learning and Neural Networks:

Lupe

Here we investigate how machines can learn from examples in order to predict and (more recently) act. Research topics include the learning of proper representations, active and semisupervised learning schemes, and prototype-based methods. Motivated by the model-based analysis of decision making in humans we also became interested in reinforcement learning schemes and how these methods can be extended to cope with multi-objective cost functions. In collaboration with colleagues from the application domains, machine learning methods are applied to different problems ranging from computer vision, information retrieval, to chemoinformatics.

Analysis of Neural Data:

Lupe

Here we are interested to apply machine learning and statistical methods to the analysis of multivariate biomedical data, in particular to data which form the basis of our computational studies of neural systems. Research topics vary and currently include spike-sorting and the analysis of multi-tetrode recordings, confocal microscopy and 3D-reconstruction techniques, and the analysis of imaging data. Recently we became interested in the analysis of multimodal data, for example, correlating anatomical, imaging, and genetic data.

Selected Publications

A Maximum Entropy Test for Evaluating Higher-Order Correlations in Spike Counts
Citation key Onken20120
Author Onken, A. and Dragoi, V. and Obermayer, K.
Year 2012
DOI 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002539
Journal PLoS Computational Biology
Volume 8
Abstract Evaluating the importance of higher-order correlations of neural spike counts has been notoriously hard. A large number of samples are typically required in order to estimate higher-order correlations and resulting information theoretic quantities. In typical electrophysiology data sets with many experimental conditions, however, the number of samples in each condition is rather small. Here we describe a method that allows to quantify evidence for higher-order correlations in exactly these cases. We construct a family of reference distributions: maximum entropy distributions, which are constrained only by marginals and by linear correlations as quantified by the Pearson correlation coefficient. We devise a Monte Carlo goodness-of-fit test, which tests - for a given divergence measure of interest - whether the experimental data lead to the rejection of the null hypothesis that it was generated by one of the reference distributions. Applying our test to artificial data shows that the effects of higher-order correlations on these divergence measures can be detected even when the number of samples is small. Subsequently, we apply our method to spike count data which were recorded with multielectrode arrays from the primary visual cortex of anesthetized cat during an adaptation experiment. Using mutual information as a divergence measure we find that there are spike count bin sizes at which the maximum entropy hypothesis can be rejected for a substantial number of neuronal pairs. These results demonstrate that higher-order correlations can matter when estimating information theoretic quantities in V1. They also show that our test is able to detect their presence in typical in-vivo data sets, where the number of samples is too small to estimate higher-order correlations directly.
Bibtex Type of Publication Selected:main selected:spikes selected:publications
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