Towards NeuroAI: Introducing Neuronal Diversity into Artificial Neural Networks

by   Feng-Lei Fan, et al.

Throughout history, the development of artificial intelligence, particularly artificial neural networks, has been open to and constantly inspired by the increasingly deepened understanding of the brain, such as the inspiration of neocognitron, which is the pioneering work of convolutional neural networks. Per the motives of the emerging field: NeuroAI, a great amount of neuroscience knowledge can help catalyze the next generation of AI by endowing a network with more powerful capabilities. As we know, the human brain has numerous morphologically and functionally different neurons, while artificial neural networks are almost exclusively built on a single neuron type. In the human brain, neuronal diversity is an enabling factor for all kinds of biological intelligent behaviors. Since an artificial network is a miniature of the human brain, introducing neuronal diversity should be valuable in terms of addressing those essential problems of artificial networks such as efficiency, interpretability, and memory. In this Primer, we first discuss the preliminaries of biological neuronal diversity and the characteristics of information transmission and processing in a biological neuron. Then, we review studies of designing new neurons for artificial networks. Next, we discuss what gains can neuronal diversity bring into artificial networks and exemplary applications in several important fields. Lastly, we discuss the challenges and future directions of neuronal diversity to explore the potential of NeuroAI.


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