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  1. The neural plausibility of backpropagation has long been disputed, primarily for its use of non-local weight transport — the biologically dubious requirement that one neuron instantaneously measure the synaptic weights of another. Until recently, attempts to create local learning rules that avoid weight transport have typically failed in the large-scale learning scenarios where backpropagation shines, e.g. ImageNet categorization with deep convolutional networks. Here, we investigate a recently proposed local learning rule that yields competitive performance with backpropagation and find that it is highly sensitive to metaparameter choices, requiring laborious tuning that does not transfer across network architecture. Our analysis indicates the underlying mathematical reason for this instability, allowing us to identify a more robust local learning rule that better transfers without metaparameter tuning. Nonetheless, we find a performance and stability gap between this local rule and backpropagation that widens with increasing model depth. We then investigate several non-local learning rules that relax the need for instantaneous weight transport into a more biologically-plausible "weight estimation" process, showing that these rules match state-of-the-art performance on deep networks and operate effectively in the presence of noisy updates. Taken together, our results suggest two routes towards the discovery of neural implementations for credit assignmentmore »without weight symmetry: further improvement of local rules so that they perform consistently across architectures and the identification of biological implementations for non-local learning mechanisms.« less
  2. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) offers a rich source of data for studying the neural basis of cognition. Here, we describe the Brain Imaging Analysis Kit (BrainIAK), an open-source, free Python package that provides computationally optimized solutions to key problems in advanced fMRI analysis. A variety of techniques are presently included in BrainIAK: intersubject correlation (ISC) and intersubject functional connectivity (ISFC), functional alignment via the shared response model (SRM), full correlation matrix analysis (FCMA), a Bayesian version of representational similarity analysis (BRSA), event segmentation using hidden Markov models, topographic factor analysis (TFA), inverted encoding models (IEMs), an fMRI data simulator that uses noise characteristics from real data (fmrisim), and some emerging methods. These techniques have been optimized to leverage the efficiencies of high-performance compute (HPC) clusters, and the same code can be seamlessly transferred from a laptop to a cluster. For each of the aforementioned techniques, we describe the data analysis problem that the technique is meant to solve and how it solves that problem; we also include an example Jupyter notebook for each technique and an annotated bibliography of papers that have used and/or described that technique. In addition to the sections describing various analysis techniques in BrainIAK, wemore »have included sections describing the future applications of BrainIAK to real-time fMRI, tutorials that we have developed and shared online to facilitate learning the techniques in BrainIAK, computational innovations in BrainIAK, and how to contribute to BrainIAK. We hope that this manuscript helps readers to understand how BrainIAK might be useful in their research.« less