MiS Preprint Repository

We have decided to discontinue the publication of preprints on our preprint server as of 1 March 2024. The publication culture within mathematics has changed so much due to the rise of repositories such as ArXiV ( that we are encouraging all institute members to make their preprints available there. An institute's repository in its previous form is, therefore, unnecessary. The preprints published to date will remain available here, but we will not add any new preprints here.

MiS Preprint

Implementing a Bayes Filter in a Neural Circuit: The Case of Unknown Stimulus Dynamics

Sacha Sokoloski


In order to interact intelligently with objects in the world, animals must first transform neural population responses into estimates of the dynamic, unknown stimuli which caused them. The Bayesian solution to this problem is known as a Bayes filter, which applies Bayes’ rule to combine population responses with the predictions of an internal model.

The internal model of the Bayes filter is based on the true stimulus dynamics, and in this paper we present a method for training a theoretical neural circuit to approximately implement a Bayes filter when the stimulus dynamics are unknown. To do this we use the inferential properties of linear probabilistic population codes to compute Bayes’ rule, and train a neural network to compute approximate predictions by the method of maximum likelihood. In particular, we perform stochastic gradient descent on the negative log-likelihood of the neural network parameters with a novel approximation of the gradient. We demonstrate our methods on a finite-state, a linear, and a nonlinear filtering problem, and show how the hidden layer of the neural network develops tuning curves which are consistent with findings in experimental neuroscience.


Related publications

2017 Repository Open Access
Sacha Sokoloski

Implementing a Bayes filter in a neural circuit : the case of unknown stimulus dynamics

In: Neural computation, 29 (2017) 9, pp. 2450-2490