Simultaneous unsupervised and supervised learning of cognitive functions in biologically plausible spiking neural networks

35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2013

Trevor Bekolay, Carter Kolbeck, Chris Eliasmith


We present a novel learning rule for learning transformations of sophisticated neural representations in a biologically plausible manner. We show that the rule can learn to transmit and bind semantic pointers. Semantic pointers have previously been used to build Spaun, which is currently the world's largest functional brain model (Eliasmith et al., 2012) and can perform several complex cognitive tasks. The learning rule combines a previously proposed supervised learning rule and a novel spiking form of the BCM unsupervised learning rule. We show that spiking BCM increases sparsity of connection weights at the cost of increased signal transmission error. We demonstrate that the combined learning rule can learn transformations as well as the supervised rule alone, and as well as the offline optimization used previously. We also demonstrate that the combined learning rule is more robust to changes in parameters and leads to better outcomes in higher dimensional spaces.

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35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
Cognitive Science Society


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