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Neural Information ProcessingModels of Neural Development

Neuronale Informationsverarbeitung

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Models of Neural Development


Topographic projections between neural sheets, orientation columns and ocular dominance columns in early visual areas have served as paradigmatic model systems for understanding the mechanisms underlying neural plasticity and development. Using mathematical models and computer simulations we investigated how activity driven and intrinsic processes interact in order to generate the observed anatomical connectivity patterns and response properties of neurons. We describe the development of those patterns as a goal-oriented (in the sense of underlying cost-functions) self-organizing process, which extracts information from the environment and imprints this knowledge into neural circuits. Particular emphasis was given to competitive networks including the Self-Organizing Map, which are known to trade smoothness vs. completeness of representations and which lead to patterns which fit experimental data surprisingly well.The mathematical properties of self-organizing maps were also analysed in a machine learning context. For details see "Research" page "Learning Vector Quantization and Self-organizing Maps"

Acknowledgements: Research was funded by BMBF, DFG, and the Technische Universität Berlin.

Selected Publications:

The Role of Lateral Cortical Competition in Ocular Dominance Development
Citation key Piepenbrock1999b
Author Piepenbrock, C. and Obermayer, K.
Title of Book Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 11
Pages 139 – 145
Year 1999
Address Cambridge, Massachusetts
Publisher MIT Press
Abstract Lateral competition within a layer of neurons sharpens and localizes the response to an input stimulus. Here, we investigate a model for the activity dependent development of ocular dominance maps which allows to vary the degree of lateral competition. For weak competition, it resembles a correlation-based learning model and for strong competition, it becomes a self-organizing map. Thus, in the regime of weak competition the receptive fields are shaped by the second order statistics of the input patterns, whereas in the regime of strong competition, the higher moments and ``features\'\' of the individual patterns become important. When correlated localized stimuli from two eyes drive the cortical development we find (i) that a topographic map and binocular, localized receptive fields emerge when the degree of competition exceeds a critical value and (ii) that receptive fields exhibit eye dominance beyond a second critical value. For anti-correlated activity between the eyes, the second order statistics drive the system to develop ocular dominance even for weak competition, but no topography emerges. Topography is established only beyond a critical degree of competition.
Bibtex Type of Publication Selected:development
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