A general recurrent state space framework for modeling neural dynamics during decision-making

Part of Proceedings of the International Conference on Machine Learning 1 pre-proceedings (ICML 2020)

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David Zoltowski, Jonathan Pillow, Scott Linderman


<p>An open question in systems and computational neuroscience is how neural circuits accumulate evidence towards a decision. Fitting models of decision-making theory to neural activity helps answer this question, but current approaches limit the number of these models that we can fit to neural data. Here we propose a general framework for modeling neural activity during decision-making. The framework includes the canonical drift-diffusion model and enables extensions such as multi-dimensional accumulators, variable and collapsing boundaries, and discrete jumps. Our framework is based on constraining the parameters of recurrent state space models, for which we introduce a scalable variational Laplace-EM inference algorithm. We applied the modeling approach to spiking responses recorded from monkey parietal cortex during two decision-making tasks. We found that a two-dimensional accumulator better captured the trial-averaged responses of a set of parietal neurons than a single accumulator model. Next, we identified a variable lower boundary in the responses of a parietal neuron during a random dot motion task.</p>