Learning Disentangled Behavior Embeddings

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 34 (NeurIPS 2021)

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Changhao Shi, Sivan Schwartz, Shahar Levy, Shay Achvat, Maisan Abboud, Amir Ghanayim, Jackie Schiller, Gal Mishne


To understand the relationship between behavior and neural activity, experiments in neuroscience often include an animal performing a repeated behavior such as a motor task. Recent progress in computer vision and deep learning has shown great potential in the automated analysis of behavior by leveraging large and high-quality video datasets. In this paper, we design Disentangled Behavior Embedding (DBE) to learn robust behavioral embeddings from unlabeled, multi-view, high-resolution behavioral videos across different animals and multiple sessions. We further combine DBE with a stochastic temporal model to propose Variational Disentangled Behavior Embedding (VDBE), an end-to-end approach that learns meaningful discrete behavior representations and generates interpretable behavioral videos. Our models learn consistent behavior representations by explicitly disentangling the dynamic behavioral factors (pose) from time-invariant, non-behavioral nuisance factors (context) in a deep autoencoder, and exploit the temporal structures of pose dynamics. Compared to competing approaches, DBE and VDBE enjoy superior performance on downstream tasks such as fine-grained behavioral motif generation and behavior decoding.