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  1. Soltani, Alireza (Ed.)
    Feedforward network models performing classification tasks rely on highly convergent output units that collect the information passed on by preceding layers. Although convergent output-unit like neurons may exist in some biological neural circuits, notably the cerebellar cortex, neocortical circuits do not exhibit any obvious candidates for this role; instead they are highly recurrent. We investigate whether a sparsely connected recurrent neural network (RNN) can perform classification in a distributed manner without ever bringing all of the relevant information to a single convergence site. Our model is based on a sparse RNN that performs classification dynamically. Specifically, the interconnections of the RNN are trained to resonantly amplify the magnitude of responses to some external inputs but not others. The amplified and non-amplified responses then form the basis for binary classification. Furthermore, the network acts as an evidence accumulator and maintains its decision even after the input is turned off. Despite highly sparse connectivity, learned recurrent connections allow input information to flow to every neuron of the RNN, providing the basis for distributed computation. In this arrangement, the minimum number of synapses per neuron required to reach maximum memory capacity scales only logarithmically with network size. The model is robust to various types of noise, works with different activation and loss functions and with both backpropagation- and Hebbian-based learning rules. The RNN can also be constructed with a split excitation-inhibition architecture with little reduction in performance. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 14, 2023
  2. Soltani, Alireza (Ed.)
    Cortical circuits generate excitatory currents that must be cancelled by strong inhibition to assure stability. The resulting excitatory-inhibitory (E-I) balance can generate spontaneous irregular activity but, in standard balanced E-I models, this requires that an extremely strong feedforward bias current be included along with the recurrent excitation and inhibition. The absence of experimental evidence for such large bias currents inspired us to examine an alternative regime that exhibits asynchronous activity without requiring unrealistically large feedforward input. In these networks, irregular spontaneous activity is supported by a continually changing sparse set of neurons. To support this activity, synaptic strengths must be drawn from high-variance distributions. Unlike standard balanced networks, these sparse balance networks exhibit robust nonlinear responses to uniform inputs and non-Gaussian input statistics. Interestingly, the speed, not the size, of synaptic fluctuations dictates the degree of sparsity in the model. In addition to simulations, we provide a mean-field analysis to illustrate the properties of these networks. 
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  3. Soltani, Alireza (Ed.)