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  1. Abstract

    Probabilistic graphical models have become an important unsupervised learning tool for detecting network structures for a variety of problems, including the estimation of functional neuronal connectivity from two‐photon calcium imaging data. However, in the context of calcium imaging, technological limitations only allow for partially overlapping layers of neurons in a brain region of interest to be jointly recorded. In this case, graph estimation for the full data requires inference for edge selection when many pairs of neurons have no simultaneous observations. This leads to the graph quilting problem, which seeks to estimate a graph in the presence of block‐missingness in the empirical covariance matrix. Solutions for the graph quilting problem have previously been studied for Gaussian graphical models; however, neural activity data from calcium imaging are often non‐Gaussian, thereby requiring a more flexible modelling approach. Thus, in our work, we study two approaches for nonparanormal graph quilting based on the Gaussian copula graphical model, namely, a maximum likelihood procedure and a low rank‐based framework. We provide theoretical guarantees on edge recovery for the former approach under similar conditions to those previously developed for the Gaussian setting, and we investigate the empirical performance of both methods using simulations as well as real data calcium imaging data. Our approaches yield more scientifically meaningful functional connectivity estimates compared to existing Gaussian graph quilting methods for this calcium imaging data set.

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  2. Abstract

    Backpropagation is widely used to train artificial neural networks, but its relationship to synaptic plasticity in the brain is unknown. Some biological models of backpropagation rely on feedback projections that are symmetric with feedforward connections, but experiments do not corroborate the existence of such symmetric backward connectivity. Random feedback alignment offers an alternative model in which errors are propagated backward through fixed, random backward connections. This approach successfully trains shallow models, but learns slowly and does not perform well with deeper models or online learning. In this study, we develop a meta-learning approach to discover interpretable, biologically plausible plasticity rules that improve online learning performance with fixed random feedback connections. The resulting plasticity rules show improved online training of deep models in the low data regime. Our results highlight the potential of meta-learning to discover effective, interpretable learning rules satisfying biological constraints.

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  3. Abstract

    Clustering has long been a popular unsupervised learning approach to identify groups of similar objects and discover patterns from unlabeled data in many applications. Yet, coming up with meaningful interpretations of the estimated clusters has often been challenging precisely due to their unsupervised nature. Meanwhile, in many real-world scenarios, there are some noisy supervising auxiliary variables, for instance, subjective diagnostic opinions, that are related to the observed heterogeneity of the unlabeled data. By leveraging information from both supervising auxiliary variables and unlabeled data, we seek to uncover more scientifically interpretable group structures that may be hidden by completely unsupervised analyses. In this work, we propose and develop a new statistical pattern discovery method named supervised convex clustering (SCC) that borrows strength from both information sources and guides towards finding more interpretable patterns via a joint convex fusion penalty. We develop several extensions of SCC to integrate different types of supervising auxiliary variables, to adjust for additional covariates, and to find biclusters. We demonstrate the practical advantages of SCC through simulations and a case study on Alzheimer's disease genomics. Specifically, we discover new candidate genes as well as new subtypes of Alzheimer's disease that can potentially lead to better understanding of the underlying genetic mechanisms responsible for the observed heterogeneity of cognitive decline in older adults.

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  4. Summary

    Structural learning of Gaussian graphical models in the presence of latent variables has long been a challenging problem. Chandrasekaran et al. (2012) proposed a convex program for estimating a sparse graph plus a low-rank term that adjusts for latent variables; however, this approach poses challenges from both computational and statistical perspectives. We propose an alternative, simple solution: apply a hard-thresholding operator to existing graph selection methods. Conceptually simple and computationally attractive, the approach of thresholding the graphical lasso is shown to be graph selection consistent in the presence of latent variables under a simpler minimum edge strength condition and at an improved statistical rate. The results are extended to estimators for thresholded neighbourhood selection and constrained $\ell_{1}$-minimization for inverse matrix estimation as well. We show that our simple thresholded graph estimators yield stronger empirical results than existing methods for the latent variable graphical model problem, and we apply them to a neuroscience case study on estimating functional neural connections.

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  5. Abstract Neuroscience has long been an essential driver of progress in artificial intelligence (AI). We propose that to accelerate progress in AI, we must invest in fundamental research in NeuroAI. A core component of this is the embodied Turing test, which challenges AI animal models to interact with the sensorimotor world at skill levels akin to their living counterparts. The embodied Turing test shifts the focus from those capabilities like game playing and language that are especially well-developed or uniquely human to those capabilities – inherited from over 500 million years of evolution – that are shared with all animals. Building models that can pass the embodied Turing test will provide a roadmap for the next generation of AI. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  6. Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 12, 2024
  7. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  8. The structure of neural circuitry plays a crucial role in brain function. Previous studies of brain organization generally had to trade off between coarse descriptions at a large scale and fine descriptions on a small scale. Researchers have now reconstructed tens to hundreds of thousands of neurons at synaptic resolution, enabling investigations into the interplay between global, modular organization, and cell type-specific wiring. Analyzing data of this scale, however, presents unique challenges. To address this problem, we applied novel community detection methods to analyze the synapse-level reconstruction of an adult femaleDrosophila melanogasterbrain containing >20,000 neurons and 10 million synapses. Using a machine-learning algorithm, we find the most densely connected communities of neurons by maximizing a generalized modularity density measure. We resolve the community structure at a range of scales, from large (on the order of thousands of neurons) to small (on the order of tens of neurons). We find that the network is organized hierarchically, and larger-scale communities are composed of smaller-scale structures. Our methods identify well-known features of the fly brain, including its sensory pathways. Moreover, focusing on specific brain regions, we are able to identify subnetworks with distinct connectivity types. For example, manual efforts have identified layered structures in the fan-shaped body. Our methods not only automatically recover this layered structure, but also resolve finer connectivity patterns to downstream and upstream areas. We also find a novel modular organization of the superior neuropil, with distinct clusters of upstream and downstream brain regions dividing the neuropil into several pathways. These methods show that the fine-scale, local network reconstruction made possible by modern experimental methods are sufficiently detailed to identify the organization of the brain across scales, and enable novel predictions about the structure and function of its parts.

    Significance StatementThe Hemibrain is a partial connectome of an adult femaleDrosophila melanogasterbrain containing >20,000 neurons and 10 million synapses. Analyzing the structure of a network of this size requires novel and efficient computational tools. We applied a new community detection method to automatically uncover the modular structure in the Hemibrain dataset by maximizing a generalized modularity measure. This allowed us to resolve the community structure of the fly hemibrain at a range of spatial scales revealing a hierarchical organization of the network, where larger-scale modules are composed of smaller-scale structures. The method also allowed us to identify subnetworks with distinct cell and connectivity structures, such as the layered structures in the fan-shaped body, and the modular organization of the superior neuropil. Thus, network analysis methods can be adopted to the connectomes being reconstructed using modern experimental methods to reveal the organization of the brain across scales. This supports the view that such connectomes will allow us to uncover the organizational structure of the brain, which can ultimately lead to a better understanding of its function.

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  9. Wei, Xue-Xin (Ed.)

    Machine learning models have difficulty generalizing to data outside of the distribution they were trained on. In particular, vision models are usually vulnerable to adversarial attacks or common corruptions, to which the human visual system is robust. Recent studies have found that regularizing machine learning models to favor brain-like representations can improve model robustness, but it is unclear why. We hypothesize that the increased model robustness is partly due to the low spatial frequency preference inherited from the neural representation. We tested this simple hypothesis with several frequency-oriented analyses, including the design and use of hybrid images to probe model frequency sensitivity directly. We also examined many other publicly available robust models that were trained on adversarial images or with data augmentation, and found that all these robust models showed a greater preference to low spatial frequency information. We show that preprocessing by blurring can serve as a defense mechanism against both adversarial attacks and common corruptions, further confirming our hypothesis and demonstrating the utility of low spatial frequency information in robust object recognition.

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