Date: May 09, 2017. 12:00
Location: CCU Seminar Room
Title: Shrinking the gap between data-driven and theory-driven models of neural dynamics.
Affiliation: Center of advanced European studies and research (CAESAR), Germany.
One of the central goals of computational neuroscience is to understand the dynamics of single neurons and neural ensembles. While advances in experimental techniques are making it possible to measure neural activity at unprecedented scale and resolution, most analysis methods for neural data are based on generic statistical models (for example GLMs or maximum entropy models): These models do not incorporate knowledge about underlying mechanisms, and interpreting their parameters can therefore be challenging. How can we make statistical inference tractable for mechanistic, or theory-derived models?
I will present a general method for Bayesian inference on mechanistic models of neural dynamics, building on recent advances in likelihood-free inference. Our approach can be applied in a ‘black box’ manner to a wide range of neural models without requiring model-specific modifications. In particular, it extends to models without explicit likelihoods (e.g. spiking networks): The key idea is to simulate multiple data-sets from different parameters, and then to train a probabilistic neural network which approximates the mapping from data to posterior. I will illustrate this approach using biophysical models of single neurons, simulations of spiking networks, and a model of calcium dynamics for spike inference.
Our approach will enable neuroscientists to perform Bayesian inference on complex neural dynamics models without having to design model-specific algorithms, closing the gap between theory-driven and data-driven approaches to neural dynamics.