A new inference approach for training shallow and deep generalized linear models of noisy interacting neurons

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 33 (NeurIPS 2020)

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Gabriel Mahuas, Giulio Isacchini, Olivier Marre, Ulisse Ferrari, Thierry Mora


Generalized linear models are one of the most efficient paradigms for predicting the correlated stochastic activity of neuronal networks in response to external stimuli, with applications in many brain areas. However, when dealing with complex stimuli, the inferred coupling parameters often do not generalise across different stimulus statistics, leading to degraded performance and blowup instabilities. Here, we develop a two-step inference strategy that allows us to train robust generalised linear models of interacting neurons, by explicitly separating the effects of correlations in the stimulus from network interactions in each training step. Applying this approach to the responses of retinal ganglion cells to complex visual stimuli, we show that, compared to classical methods, the models trained in this way exhibit improved performance, are more stable, yield robust interaction networks, and generalise well across complex visual statistics. The method can be extended to deep convolutional neural networks, leading to models with high predictive accuracy for both the neuron firing rates and their correlations.