Timothy Rumbell


The aim of this work is to introduce modular processing mechanisms for cortical functions implemented in networks of spiking neurons. Neural maps are a feature of cortical processing found to be generic throughout sensory cortical areas, and self-organisation to the fundamental properties of input spike trains has been shown to be an important property of cortical organisation. Additionally, oscillatory behaviour, temporal coding of information, and learning through spike timing dependent plasticity are all frequently observed in the cortex. The traditional self-organising map (SOM) algorithm attempts to capture the computational properties of this cortical self-organisation in a neural network. As such, a cognitive module for a spiking SOM using oscillations, phasic coding and STDP has been implemented. This model is capable of mapping to distributions of input data in a manner consistent with the traditional SOM algorithm, and of categorising generic input data sets. Higher-level cortical processing areas appear to feature a hierarchical category structure that is founded on a feature-based object representation. The spiking SOM model is therefore extended to facilitate input patterns in the form of sets of binary feature-object relations, such as those seen in the field of formal concept analysis. It is demonstrated that this extended model is capable of learning to represent the hierarchical conceptual structure of an input data set using the existing learning scheme. Furthermore, manipulations of network parameters allow the level of hierarchy used for either learning or recall to be adjusted, and the network is capable of learning comparable representations when trained with incomplete input patterns. Together these two modules provide related approaches to the generation of both topographic mapping and hierarchical representation of input spaces that can be potentially combined and used as the basis for advanced spiking neuron models of the learning of complex representations.

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