Abstract for the talk on 22.01.2019 (15:00 h)Group Seminar
Wiktor Młynarski (Institute of Science and Technology Austria, Austria)
Principles of adaptive coding for dynamic sensory inference
Processing of natural stimuli in sensory systems has been traditionally studied within two theoretical frameworks: probabilistic inference and efficient coding. Probabilistic inference specifies optimal strategies for learning about relevant properties of the environment from local and ambiguous sensory signals. Efficient coding provides a normative approach to study encoding of natural stimuli in resource-constrained sensory systems. By emphasizing different aspects of information processing they provide complementary approaches to study sensory computations. In this work we attempt to bring them together by developing general principles that underlie the tradeoff between energetic cost of sensory coding and accuracy of perceptual inferences. We then derive adaptive encoding schemes that dynamically navigate this tradeoff. These optimal encodings tend to increase the fidelity of the neural representation following a change in the stimulus distribution, and reduce fidelity for stimuli that originate from a known distribution. We predict dynamical signatures of such encoding schemes and demonstrate how phenomena well known in neurobiology, such as burst coding and firing rate adaptation, can be understood as hallmarks of optimal coding for accurate inference.