November 29, 2020

Learning the synaptic and intrinsic membrane dynamics underlying working memory in spiking neural network models

Recurrent neural network (RNN) model trained to perform cognitive tasks is a useful computational tool for understanding how cortical circuits execute complex computations. However, these models are often composed of units that interact with one another using continuous signals and overlook parameters intrinsic to spiking neurons. Here, we developed a method to directly train not only synaptic-related variables but also membrane-related parameters of a spiking RNN model.

Training our model on a wide range of cognitive tasks resulted in diverse yet task-specific synaptic and membrane parameters. They also show that fast membrane time constants and slow synaptic decay dynamics naturally emerge from our model when it is trained on tasks associated with working memory (WM).

Further dissecting the optimized parameters revealed that fast membrane properties and slow synaptic dynamics are important for encoding stimuli and WM maintenance, respectively. This approach offers a unique window into how connectivity patterns and intrinsic neuronal properties contribute to complex dynamics in neural populations.

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