Gradient Descent for Spiking Neural Networks

Deep Learning


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Much of studies on neural computation are based on network models of static neurons that produce analog output, despite the fact that information processing in the brain is predominantly carried out by dynamic neurons that produce discrete pulses called spikes. Research in spike-based computation has been impeded by the lack of efficient supervised learning algorithm for spiking networks. Here, we present a gradient descent method for optimizing spiking network models by introducing a differentiable formulation of spiking networks and deriving the exact gradient calculation. For demonstration, we trained recurrent spiking networks on two dynamic tasks: one that requires optimizing fast (~millisecond) spike-based interactions for efficient encoding of information, and a delayed memory XOR task over extended duration (~second). The results show that our method indeed optimizes the spiking network dynamics on the time scale of individual spikes as well as behavioral time scales. In conclusion, our result offers a general purpose supervised learning algorithm for spiking neural networks, thus advancing further investigations on spike-based computation.

Please cite our work using the BibTeX below.

    title={Gradient Descent for Spiking Neural Networks},
    author={Dongsung Huh and Terrence J. Sejnowski},
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