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Artificial Neural Networks for Nonlinear System Identification of Neuronal Microcircuits


Bagherian, Dawna Paria (2021) Artificial Neural Networks for Nonlinear System Identification of Neuronal Microcircuits. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/rj2p-8g11.


This thesis explores the application of artificial neural networks (ANNs) to nonlinear system identification. We use neuronal microcircuits in the retina as a testbed for our technique, which relies upon the marriage of partial anatomical information with large electrophysiological datasets. Rather than a typical application of machine learning, our primary goal is not to predict the output of retinal circuits, but rather to uncover their structure. We begin with a theoretical exploration in a toy problem and provide a proof of unique identifiability under a specific set of conditions. We then perform empirical simulations in a number of different circuit architectures and explore the space of constraints and regularizers to demonstrate that this technique is feasible in a hyperparametric regime that lends itself well to neuroscience datasets. We then apply the technique to mouse retinal datasets and show that we can both recover known biological information as well as discover new hypotheses for biological exploration. We end with an exploration of active stimulus design algorithms to distinguish between circuit hypotheses.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Machine learning; Neuroscience; Retina; Neural networks; System identification
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Biology and Biological Engineering
Major Option:Bioengineering
Awards:Dr. Fred Shair Award for Program Diversity, 2020.
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Meister, Markus
Thesis Committee:
  • Yue, Yisong
  • Tsao, Doris Y.
  • Perona, Pietro (chair)
  • Meister, Markus
Defense Date:14 May 2021
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship1745301
Amazon Web ServicesUNSPECIFIED
Simons Collaboration on the Global Brain543015
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:05282021-174607976
Persistent URL:
Bagherian, Dawna Paria0000-0003-4465-552X
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:14192
Deposited By: Dawna Bagherian
Deposited On:07 Jun 2021 15:45
Last Modified:08 Nov 2023 17:56

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