Quantifying Extrinsic Curvature in Neural Manifolds

Francisco Acosta, Sophia Sanborn, Khanh Dao Duc, Manu Madhav, Nina Miolane; Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) Workshops, 2023, pp. 610-619


The neural manifold hypothesis postulates that the activity of a neural population forms a low-dimensional manifold whose structure reflects that of the encoded task variables. In this work, we combine topological deep generative models and extrinsic Riemannian geometry to introduce a novel approach for studying the structure of neural manifolds. This approach (i) computes an explicit parameterization of the manifolds and (ii) estimates their local extrinsic curvature--hence quantifying their shape within the neural state space. Importantly, we prove that our methodology is invariant with respect to transformations that do not bear meaningful neuroscience information, such as permutation of the order in which neurons are recorded. We show empirically that we correctly estimate the geometry of synthetic manifolds generated from smooth deformations of circles, spheres, and tori, using realistic noise levels. We additionally validate our methodology on simulated and real neural data, and show that we recover geometric structure known to exist in hippocampal place cells. We expect this approach to open new avenues of inquiry into geometric neural correlates of perception and behavior, while providing a new means to compare representations in biological and artificial neural systems.

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@InProceedings{Acosta_2023_CVPR, author = {Acosta, Francisco and Sanborn, Sophia and Duc, Khanh Dao and Madhav, Manu and Miolane, Nina}, title = {Quantifying Extrinsic Curvature in Neural Manifolds}, booktitle = {Proceedings of the IEEE/CVF Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR) Workshops}, month = {June}, year = {2023}, pages = {610-619} }