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Neuron. 2019 Jul 4. pii: S0896-6273(19)30562-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.06.012. [Epub ahead of print]

Bayesian Computation through Cortical Latent Dynamics.

Author information

1
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
2
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA; Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam 3015CN, the Netherlands.
3
Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.
4
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA. Electronic address: mjaz@mit.edu.

Abstract

Statistical regularities in the environment create prior beliefs that we rely on to optimize our behavior when sensory information is uncertain. Bayesian theory formalizes how prior beliefs can be leveraged and has had a major impact on models of perception, sensorimotor function, and cognition. However, it is not known how recurrent interactions among neurons mediate Bayesian integration. By using a time-interval reproduction task in monkeys, we found that prior statistics warp neural representations in the frontal cortex, allowing the mapping of sensory inputs to motor outputs to incorporate prior statistics in accordance with Bayesian inference. Analysis of recurrent neural network models performing the task revealed that this warping was enabled by a low-dimensional curved manifold and allowed us to further probe the potential causal underpinnings of this computational strategy. These results uncover a simple and general principle whereby prior beliefs exert their influence on behavior by sculpting cortical latent dynamics.

KEYWORDS:

Bayesian inference; Bayesian integration; frontal cortex; neural manifold; neural trajectories; recurrent neural networks

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