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PLoS Comput Biol. 2016 Jun 10;12(6):e1004967. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004967. eCollection 2016 Jun.

Reservoir Computing Properties of Neural Dynamics in Prefrontal Cortex.

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Univ Lyon, Université Lyon 1, Inserm, Stem Cell and Brain Research Institute U1208, Bron, France.
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, United States of America.
Escuela de Medicina, Departamento de Pre-clínicas, Universidad de Valparaíso, Hontaneda, Valparaíso, Chile.


Primates display a remarkable ability to adapt to novel situations. Determining what is most pertinent in these situations is not always possible based only on the current sensory inputs, and often also depends on recent inputs and behavioral outputs that contribute to internal states. Thus, one can ask how cortical dynamics generate representations of these complex situations. It has been observed that mixed selectivity in cortical neurons contributes to represent diverse situations defined by a combination of the current stimuli, and that mixed selectivity is readily obtained in randomly connected recurrent networks. In this context, these reservoir networks reproduce the highly recurrent nature of local cortical connectivity. Recombining present and past inputs, random recurrent networks from the reservoir computing framework generate mixed selectivity which provides pre-coded representations of an essentially universal set of contexts. These representations can then be selectively amplified through learning to solve the task at hand. We thus explored their representational power and dynamical properties after training a reservoir to perform a complex cognitive task initially developed for monkeys. The reservoir model inherently displayed a dynamic form of mixed selectivity, key to the representation of the behavioral context over time. The pre-coded representation of context was amplified by training a feedback neuron to explicitly represent this context, thereby reproducing the effect of learning and allowing the model to perform more robustly. This second version of the model demonstrates how a hybrid dynamical regime combining spatio-temporal processing of reservoirs, and input driven attracting dynamics generated by the feedback neuron, can be used to solve a complex cognitive task. We compared reservoir activity to neural activity of dorsal anterior cingulate cortex of monkeys which revealed similar network dynamics. We argue that reservoir computing is a pertinent framework to model local cortical dynamics and their contribution to higher cognitive function.

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