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PLoS Comput Biol. 2015 Jul 14;11(7):e1004353. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004353. eCollection 2015 Jul.

Modeling Inhibitory Interneurons in Efficient Sensory Coding Models.

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Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.
School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.


There is still much unknown regarding the computational role of inhibitory cells in the sensory cortex. While modeling studies could potentially shed light on the critical role played by inhibition in cortical computation, there is a gap between the simplicity of many models of sensory coding and the biological complexity of the inhibitory subpopulation. In particular, many models do not respect that inhibition must be implemented in a separate subpopulation, with those inhibitory interneurons having a diversity of tuning properties and characteristic E/I cell ratios. In this study we demonstrate a computational framework for implementing inhibition in dynamical systems models that better respects these biophysical observations about inhibitory interneurons. The main approach leverages recent work related to decomposing matrices into low-rank and sparse components via convex optimization, and explicitly exploits the fact that models and input statistics often have low-dimensional structure that can be exploited for efficient implementations. While this approach is applicable to a wide range of sensory coding models (including a family of models based on Bayesian inference in a linear generative model), for concreteness we demonstrate the approach on a network implementing sparse coding. We show that the resulting implementation stays faithful to the original coding goals while using inhibitory interneurons that are much more biophysically plausible.

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