Jake Bouvrie, Jean-jeacques Slotine
To learn reliable rules that can generalize to novel situations, the brain must be capable of imposing some form of regularization. Here we suggest, through theoretical and computational arguments, that the combination of noise with synchronization provides a plausible mechanism for regularization in the nervous system. The functional role of regularization is considered in a general context in which coupled computational systems receive inputs corrupted by correlated noise. Noise on the inputs is shown to impose regularization, and when synchronization upstream induces time-varying correlations across noise variables, the degree of regularization can be calibrated over time. The resulting qualitative behavior matches experimental data from visual cortex.