Spiking neural networks provide accurate, efficient and robust models for whisker stimulus classification and allow for inter-individual generalization
With the help of high-performance computing, we benchmarked a selection of machine learning classification algorithms on the tasks of whisker stimulus detection, stimulus classification and behavior prediction based on electrophysiological recordings of layer-resolved local field potentials from the barrel cortex of awake mice. Machine learning models capable of accurately analyzing and interpreting the neuronal activity of awake animals during a behavioral experiment are promising for neural prostheses aimed at restoring a certain functionality of the brain for patients suffering from a severe brain injury. The liquid state machine, a highly efficient spiking neural network classifier that was designed for implementation on neuromorphic hardware, achieved the same level of accuracy compared to the other classifiers included in our benchmark study. Based on application scenarios related to the barrel cortex and relevant for neuroprosthetics, we show that the liquid state machine is able to find patterns in the recordings that are not only highly predictive but, more importantly, generalizable to data from individuals not used in the model training process. The generalizability of such models makes it possible to train a model on data obtained from one or more individuals without any brain lesion and transfer this model to a prosthesis required by the patient.Author Summary A neural prosthesis is a computationally driven device that restores the functionality of a damaged brain region for locked-in patients suffering from the aftereffects of a brain injury or severe stroke. As such devices are chronically implanted, they rely on small, low-powered microchips with limited computational resources. Based on recordings describing the neural activity of awake mice, we show that spiking neural networks, which are especially designed for microchips, are able to provide accurate classification models in application scenarios relevant in neuroprosthetics. Furthermore, models were generalizable across mice, corroborating that it will be possible to train a model on recordings from healthy individuals and transfer it to the patients' prosthesis.Competing Interest StatementThe authors have declared no competing interest.