Understanding Information Processing in Human Brain by Interpreting Machine Learning Models

10/17/2020 ∙ by Ilya Kuzovkin, et al. ∙ 0

The thesis explores the role machine learning methods play in creating intuitive computational models of neural processing. Combined with interpretability techniques, machine learning could replace human modeler and shift the focus of human effort to extracting the knowledge from the ready-made models and articulating that knowledge into intuitive descroptions of reality. This perspective makes the case in favor of the larger role that exploratory and data-driven approach to computational neuroscience could play while coexisting alongside the traditional hypothesis-driven approach. We exemplify the proposed approach in the context of the knowledge representation taxonomy with three research projects that employ interpretability techniques on top of machine learning methods at three different levels of neural organization. The first study (Chapter 3) explores feature importance analysis of a random forest decoder trained on intracerebral recordings from 100 human subjects to identify spectrotemporal signatures that characterize local neural activity during the task of visual categorization. The second study (Chapter 4) employs representation similarity analysis to compare the neural responses of the areas along the ventral stream with the activations of the layers of a deep convolutional neural network. The third study (Chapter 5) proposes a method that allows test subjects to visually explore the state representation of their neural signal in real time. This is achieved by using a topology-preserving dimensionality reduction technique that allows to transform the neural data from the multidimensional representation used by the computer into a two-dimensional representation a human can grasp. The approach, the taxonomy, and the examples, present a strong case for the applicability of machine learning methods to automatic knowledge discovery in neuroscience.

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