Title: Learning neural connectivity from firing activity: efficient algorithms with provable guarantees on topology.

Authors: Amin Karbasi, Amir Hesam Salavati, Martin Vetterli


The connectivity of a neuronal network has a major effect on its functionality and role. It is generally believed that the complex network structure of the brain provides a physiological basis for information processing. Therefore, identifying the network’s topology has received a lot of attentions in neuroscience and has been the center of many research initiatives such as Human Connectome Project. Nevertheless, direct and invasive approaches that slice and observe the neural tissue have proven to be time consuming, complex and costly. As a result, the inverse methods that utilize firing activity of neurons in order to identify the (functional) connections have gained momentum recently, especially in light of rapid advances in recording technologies; It will soon be possible to simultaneously monitor the activities of tens of thousands of neurons in real time. While there are a number of excellent approaches that aim to identify the functional connections from firing activities, the scalability of the proposed techniques plays a major challenge in applying them on large-scale datasets of recorded firing activities. In exceptional cases where scalability has not been an issue, the theoretical performance guarantees are usually limited to a specific family of neurons or the type of firing activities. In this paper, we formulate the neural network reconstruction as an instance of a graph learning problem, where we observe the behavior of nodes/neurons (i.e., firing activities) and aim to find the links/connections. We develop a scalable learning mechanism and derive the conditions under which the estimated graph for a network of Leaky Integrate and Fire (LIf) neurons matches the true underlying synaptic connections. We then validate the performance of the algorithm using artificially generated data (for benchmarking) and real data recorded from multiple hippocampal areas in rats.

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