Neural Network Poisson Models for Behavioural and Neural Spike Train Data
Proceedings of the 39th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 162:10974-10996, 2022.
One of the most important and challenging application areas for complex machine learning methods is to predict, characterize and model rich, multi-dimensional, neural data. Recent advances in neural recording techniques have made it possible to monitor the activity of a large number of neurons across different brain regions as animals perform behavioural tasks. This poses the critical challenge of establishing links between neural activity at a microscopic scale, which might for instance represent sensory input, and at a macroscopic scale, which then generates behaviour. Predominant modeling methods apply rather disjoint techniques to these scales; by contrast, we suggest an end-to-end model which exploits recent developments of flexible, but tractable, neural network point-process models to characterize dependencies between stimuli, actions, and neural data. We apply this model to a public dataset collected using Neuropixel probes in mice performing a visually-guided behavioural task as well as a synthetic dataset produced from a hierarchical network model with reciprocally connected sensory and integration circuits intended to characterize animal behaviour in a fixed-duration motion discrimination task. We show that our model outperforms previous approaches and contributes novel insights into the relationships between neural activity and behaviour.