Attentive Transfer Entropy to Exploit Transient Emergence of Coupling Effect

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 36 (NeurIPS 2023) Main Conference Track

Bibtex Paper Supplemental


Xiaolei Ru, XINYA ZHANG, Zijia Liu, Jack Murdoch Moore, Gang Yan


We consider the problem of reconstructing coupled networks (e.g., biological neural networks) connecting large numbers of variables (e.g.,nerve cells), of which state evolution is governed by dissipative dynamics consisting of strong self-drive (dominants the evolution) and weak coupling-drive. The core difficulty is sparseness of coupling effect that emerges (the coupling force is significant) only momentarily and otherwise remains quiescent in time series (e.g., neuronal activity sequence). Here we learn the idea from attention mechanism to guide the classifier to make inference focusing on the critical regions of time series data where coupling effect may manifest. Specifically, attention coefficients are assigned autonomously by artificial neural networks trained to maximise the Attentive Transfer Entropy (ATEn), which is a novel generalization of the iconic transfer entropy metric. Our results show that, without any prior knowledge of dynamics, ATEn explicitly identifies areas where the strength of coupling-drive is distinctly greater than zero. This innovation substantially improves reconstruction performance for both synthetic and real directed coupling networks using data generated by neuronal models widely used in neuroscience.