TY - JOUR

T1 - Neural population geometry

T2 - An approach for understanding biological and artificial neural networks

AU - Chung, Sue Yeon

AU - Abbott, L. F.

N1 - Funding Information:
We thank Jacob Portes and David Clark for their helpful comments. The research was supported by NSF NeuroNex Award (DBI-1707398), the Gatsby Charitable Foundation (GAT3708), and the Simons Collaboration for the Global Brain.
Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors

PY - 2021/10

Y1 - 2021/10

N2 - Advances in experimental neuroscience have transformed our ability to explore the structure and function of neural circuits. At the same time, advances in machine learning have unleashed the remarkable computational power of artificial neural networks (ANNs). While these two fields have different tools and applications, they present a similar challenge: namely, understanding how information is embedded and processed through high-dimensional representations to solve complex tasks. One approach to addressing this challenge is to utilize mathematical and computational tools to analyze the geometry of these high-dimensional representations, i.e., neural population geometry. We review examples of geometrical approaches providing insight into the function of biological and artificial neural networks: representation untangling in perception, a geometric theory of classification capacity, disentanglement, and abstraction in cognitive systems, topological representations underlying cognitive maps, dynamic untangling in motor systems, and a dynamical approach to cognition. Together, these findings illustrate an exciting trend at the intersection of machine learning, neuroscience, and geometry, in which neural population geometry provides a useful population-level mechanistic descriptor underlying task implementation. Importantly, geometric descriptions are applicable across sensory modalities, brain regions, network architectures, and timescales. Thus, neural population geometry has the potential to unify our understanding of structure and function in biological and artificial neural networks, bridging the gap between single neurons, population activities, and behavior.

AB - Advances in experimental neuroscience have transformed our ability to explore the structure and function of neural circuits. At the same time, advances in machine learning have unleashed the remarkable computational power of artificial neural networks (ANNs). While these two fields have different tools and applications, they present a similar challenge: namely, understanding how information is embedded and processed through high-dimensional representations to solve complex tasks. One approach to addressing this challenge is to utilize mathematical and computational tools to analyze the geometry of these high-dimensional representations, i.e., neural population geometry. We review examples of geometrical approaches providing insight into the function of biological and artificial neural networks: representation untangling in perception, a geometric theory of classification capacity, disentanglement, and abstraction in cognitive systems, topological representations underlying cognitive maps, dynamic untangling in motor systems, and a dynamical approach to cognition. Together, these findings illustrate an exciting trend at the intersection of machine learning, neuroscience, and geometry, in which neural population geometry provides a useful population-level mechanistic descriptor underlying task implementation. Importantly, geometric descriptions are applicable across sensory modalities, brain regions, network architectures, and timescales. Thus, neural population geometry has the potential to unify our understanding of structure and function in biological and artificial neural networks, bridging the gap between single neurons, population activities, and behavior.

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U2 - 10.1016/j.conb.2021.10.010

DO - 10.1016/j.conb.2021.10.010

M3 - Review article

C2 - 34801787

AN - SCOPUS:85119330503

SN - 0959-4388

VL - 70

SP - 137

EP - 144

JO - Current Opinion in Neurobiology

JF - Current Opinion in Neurobiology

ER -