Generative Decoding of Visual Stimuli
Proceedings of the 40th International Conference on Machine Learning, PMLR 202:24775-24784, 2023.
Reconstructing natural images from fMRI recordings is a challenging task of great importance in neuroscience. The current architectures are bottlenecked because they fail to effectively capture the hierarchical processing of visual stimuli that takes place in the human brain. Motivated by that fact, we introduce a novel neural network architecture for the problem of neural decoding. Our architecture uses Hierarchical Variational Autoencoders (HVAEs) to learn meaningful representations of natural images and leverages their latent space hierarchy to learn voxel-to-image mappings. By mapping the early stages of the visual pathway to the first set of latent variables and the higher visual cortex areas to the deeper layers in the latent hierarchy, we are able to construct a latent variable neural decoding model that replicates the hierarchical visual information processing. Our model achieves better reconstructions compared to the state of the art and our ablation study indicates that the hierarchical structure of the latent space is responsible for that performance.