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Experimental validation of the free-energy principle with in vitro neural networks

Isomura, T; Kotani, K; Jimbo, Y; Friston, KJ; (2023) Experimental validation of the free-energy principle with in vitro neural networks. Nature Communications , 14 (1) , Article 4547. 10.1038/s41467-023-40141-z. Green open access

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Abstract

Empirical applications of the free-energy principle are not straightforward because they entail a commitment to a particular process theory, especially at the cellular and synaptic levels. Using a recently established reverse engineering technique, we confirm the quantitative predictions of the free-energy principle using in vitro networks of rat cortical neurons that perform causal inference. Upon receiving electrical stimuli—generated by mixing two hidden sources—neurons self-organised to selectively encode the two sources. Pharmacological up- and downregulation of network excitability disrupted the ensuing inference, consistent with changes in prior beliefs about hidden sources. As predicted, changes in effective synaptic connectivity reduced variational free energy, where the connection strengths encoded parameters of the generative model. In short, we show that variational free energy minimisation can quantitatively predict the self-organisation of neuronal networks, in terms of their responses and plasticity. These results demonstrate the applicability of the free-energy principle to in vitro neural networks and establish its predictive validity in this setting.

Type: Article
Title: Experimental validation of the free-energy principle with in vitro neural networks
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-40141-z
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-40141-z
Language: English
Additional information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Animals, Rats, Neural Networks, Computer, Neurons, Models, Neurological
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10175655
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