Vladimir Ivanov, Konstantinos Michmizos
The liquid state machine (LSM) combines low training complexity and biological plausibility, which has made it an attractive machine learning framework for edge and neuromorphic computing paradigms. Originally proposed as a model of brain computation, the LSM tunes its internal weights without backpropagation of gradients, which results in lower performance compared to multi-layer neural networks. Recent findings in neuroscience suggest that astrocytes, a long-neglected non-neuronal brain cell, modulate synaptic plasticity and brain dynamics, tuning brain networks to the vicinity of the computationally optimal critical phase transition between order and chaos. Inspired by this disruptive understanding of how brain networks self-tune, we propose the neuron-astrocyte liquid state machine (NALSM) that addresses under-performance through self-organized near-critical dynamics. Similar to its biological counterpart, the astrocyte model integrates neuronal activity and provides global feedback to spike-timing-dependent plasticity (STDP), which self-organizes NALSM dynamics around a critical branching factor that is associated with the edge-of-chaos. We demonstrate that NALSM achieves state-of-the-art accuracy versus comparable LSM methods, without the need for data-specific hand-tuning. With a top accuracy of $97.61\%$ on MNIST, $97.51\%$ on N-MNIST, and $85.84\%$ on Fashion-MNIST, NALSM achieved comparable performance to current fully-connected multi-layer spiking neural networks trained via backpropagation. Our findings suggest that the further development of brain-inspired machine learning methods has the potential to reach the performance of deep learning, with the added benefits of supporting robust and energy-efficient neuromorphic computing on the edge.