The Performance of Associative Memory Models with Biologically Inspired Connectivity
This thesis is concerned with one important question in artificial neural networks, that is, how biologically inspired connectivity of a network affects its associative memory performance. In recent years, research on the mammalian cerebral cortex, which has the main responsibility for the associative memory function in the brains, suggests that the connectivity of this cortical network is far from fully connected, which is commonly assumed in traditional associative memory models. It is found to be a sparse network with interesting connectivity characteristics such as the “small world network” characteristics, represented by short Mean Path Length, high Clustering Coefficient, and high Global and Local Efficiency. Most of the networks in this thesis are therefore sparsely connected. There is, however, no conclusive evidence of how these different connectivity characteristics affect the associative memory performance of a network. This thesis addresses this question using networks with different types of connectivity, which are inspired from biological evidences. The findings of this programme are unexpected and important. Results show that the performance of a non-spiking associative memory model is found to be predicted by its linear correlation with the Clustering Coefficient of the network, regardless of the detailed connectivity patterns. This is particularly important because the Clustering Coefficient is a static measure of one aspect of connectivity, whilst the associative memory performance reflects the result of a complex dynamic process. On the other hand, this research reveals that improvements in the performance of a network do not necessarily directly rely on an increase in the network’s wiring cost. Therefore it is possible to construct networks with high associative memory performance but relatively low wiring cost. Particularly, Gaussian distributed connectivity in a network is found to achieve the best performance with the lowest wiring cost, in all examined connectivity models. Our results from this programme also suggest that a modular network with an appropriate configuration of Gaussian distributed connectivity, both internal to each module and across modules, can perform nearly as well as the Gaussian distributed non-modular network. Finally, a comparison between non-spiking and spiking associative memory models suggests that in terms of associative memory performance, the implication of connectivity seems to transcend the details of the actual neural models, that is, whether they are spiking or non-spiking neurons.