Adaptive Whitening in Neural Populations with Gain-modulating Interneurons

Lyndon R. Duong, David Lipshutz, David J. Heeger, Dmitri B. Chklovskii, Eero P. Simoncelli

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Statistical whitening transformations play a fundamental role in many computational systems, and may also play an important role in biological sensory systems. Existing neural circuit models of adaptive whitening operate by modifying synaptic interactions; however, such modifications would seem both too slow and insufficiently reversible. Motivated by the extensive neuroscience literature on gain modulation, we propose an alternative model that adaptively whitens its responses by modulating the gains of individual neurons. Starting from a novel whitening objective, we derive an online algorithm that whitens its outputs by adjusting the marginal variances of an overcomplete set of projections. We map the algorithm onto a recurrent neural network with fixed synaptic weights and gain-modulating interneurons. We demonstrate numerically that sign-constraining the gains improves robustness of the network to ill-conditioned inputs, and a generalization of the circuit achieves a form of local whitening in convolutional populations, such as those found throughout the visual or auditory systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8902-8921
Number of pages20
JournalProceedings of Machine Learning Research
StatePublished - 2023
Event40th International Conference on Machine Learning, ICML 2023 - Honolulu, United States
Duration: Jul 23 2023Jul 29 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Statistics and Probability


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