Yann Le Cun

Meta-FAIR & Meta AI

October, 19, 2022

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From Machine Learning to Autonomous Intelligence

How could machines learn as efficiently as humans and animals? How could machines learn to reason and plan? How could machines learn representations of percepts and action plans at multiple levels of abstraction, enabling them to reason, predict, and plan at multiple time horizons? I will propose a possible path towards autonomous intelligent agents, based on a new modular cognitive architecture and a somewhat new self supervised training paradigm. The centerpiece of the proposed architecture is a configurable predictive world model that allows the agent to plan.  Behavior and learning are driven by a set of differentiable intrinsic cost functions. The world model uses a new type of energy-based model architecture called H-JEPA (Hierarchical Joint Embedding Predictive Architecture). H-JEPA learns hierarchical abstract representations of the world that are simultaneously maximally informative and maximally predictable.


Julia Steinberg

Princeton University

October, 26, 2022

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Associative memory of structured knowledge

A long standing challenge in biological and artificial intelligence is to understand how new knowledge can be constructed from known building blocks in a way that is amenable for computation by neuronal circuits. Here we focus on the task of storage and recall of structured knowledge in long-term memory. Specifically, we ask how recurrent neuronal networks can store and retrieve multiple knowledge structures. We model each structure as a set of binary relations between events and attributes (attributes may represent e.g., temporal order, spatial location, role in semantic structure), and map each structure to a distributed neuronal activity pattern using a vector symbolic architecture (VSA) scheme. We then use associative memory plasticity rules to store the binarized patterns as fixed points in a recurrent network. By a combination of signal-to-noise analysis and numerical simulations, we demonstrate that our model allows for efficient storage of these knowledge structures, such that the memorized structures as well as their individual building blocks (e.g., events and attributes) can be subsequently retrieved from partial retrieving cues. We show that long-term memory of structured knowledge relies on a new principle of computation beyond the memory basins. Finally, we show that our model can be extended to store sequences of memories as single attractors.


Alexis Dubreuil

CNRS, Bordeaux

November 2, 2022

The role of population structure in computations through

neural dynamics

Neural computations are currently investigated using two separate approaches: sorting neurons into functional subpopulations or examining the low-dimensional dynamics of collective activity. Whether and how these two aspects interact to shape computations is currently unclear. Using a novel approach to extract computational mechanisms from networks trained on neuroscience tasks, here we show that the dimensionality of the dynamics and subpopulation structure play fundamentally com- plementary roles. Although various tasks can be implemented by increasing the dimensionality in networks with fully random population structure, flexible input–output mappings instead require a non-random population structure that can be described in terms of multiple subpopulations. Our analyses revealed that such a subpopulation structure enables flexible computations through a mechanism based on gain-controlled modulations that flexibly shape the collective dynamics. Our results lead to task-specific predictions for the structure of neural selectivity, for inactivation experiments and for the implication of different neurons in multi-tasking.

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Yonatan Aljadeff


November 9, 2022

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Shallow networks run deep:

How peripheral preprocessing facilitates odor classification

Drosophila olfactory sensory hairs ("sensilla") typically house two olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) which can laterally inhibit each other via electrical ("ephaptic") coupling. ORN pairing is highly stereotyped and genetically determined. Thus, olfactory signals arriving in the Antennal Lobe (AL) have been pre-processed by a fixed and shallow network at the periphery. To uncover the functional significance of this organization, we developed a nonlinear phenomenological model of asymmetrically coupled ORNs responding to odor mixture stimuli. We derived an analytical solution to the ORNs’ dynamics, which shows that the peripheral network can extract the valence of specific odor mixtures via transient amplification. Our model predicts that for efficient read-out of the amplified valence signal there must exist specific patterns of downstream connectivity that reflect the organization at the periphery. Analysis of AL→Lateral Horn (LH) fly connectomic data reveals evidence directly supporting this prediction. We further studied the effect of ephaptic coupling on olfactory processing in the AL→Mushroom Body (MB) pathway. We show that stereotyped ephaptic interactions between ORNs lead to a clustered odor representation of glomerular responses. Such clustering in the AL is an essential assumption of theoretical studies on odor recognition in the MB. Together our work shows that preprocessing of olfactory stimuli by a fixed and shallow network increases sensitivity to specific odor mixtures, and aids in the learning of novel olfactory stimuli.
Work led by Palka Puri, in collaboration with Chih-Ying Su and Shiuan-Tze Wu

November, 16, 2022

Society for Neuroscience Meeting


Barbara Webb

University of Edinburgh

November 23, 2022

Neural circuits for vector processing in the insect brain

 Several species of insects have been observed to perform accurate path integration, constantly updating a vector memory of their location relative to a starting position, which they can use to take a direct return path. Foraging insects such as bees and ants are also able to store and recall the vectors to return to food locations, and to take novel shortcuts between these locations. Other insects, such as dung beetles, are observed to integrate multimodal directional cues in a manner well described by vector addition. All these processes appear to be functions of the Central Complex, a highly conserved and strongly structured circuit in the insect brain. Modelling this circuit, at the single neuron level, suggests it has general capabilities for vector
encoding, vector memory, vector addition and vector rotation that can support a wide range of directed and navigational behaviours.

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