Network Plasticity as Bayesian Inference
D. Kappel, S. Habenschuss, R. Legenstein, and W. Maass
General results from statistical learning theory suggest to understand not only
brain computations, but also brain plasticity as probabilistic inference. But
a model for that has been missing. We propose that inherently stochastic
features of synaptic plasticity and spine motility enable cortical networks
of neurons to carry out probabilistic inference by sampling from a posterior
distribution of network con gurations. This model provides a viable
alternative to existing models that propose convergence of parameters to
maximum likelihood values. It explains how priors on weight distributions and
connection probabilities can be merged optimally with learned experience, how
cortical networks can generalize learned information so well to novel
experiences, and how they can compensate continuously for unforeseen
disturbances of the network. The resulting new theory of network plasticity
explains from a functional perspective a number of experimental data on
stochastic aspects of synaptic plasticity that previously appeared to be
Reference: D. Kappel, S. Habenschuss, R. Legenstein, and W. Maass.
Network plasticity as Bayesian inference.
PLOS Computational Biology, 11(11):e1004485, 2015.