Emergence of clusters in the hidden layer of a dynamic recurrent neural network

Biol Cybern. 1997 May;76(5):365-74. doi: 10.1007/s004220050350.


The neural integrator of the oculomotor system is a privileged field for artificial neural network simulation. In this paper, we were interested in an improvement of the biologically plausible features of the Arnold-Robinson network. This improvement was done by fixing the sign of the connection weights in the network (in order to respect the biological Dale's Law). We also introduced a notion of distance in the network in the form of transmission delays between its units. These modifications necessitated the introduction of a general supervisor in order to train the network to act as a leaky integrator. When examining the lateral connection weights of the hidden layer, the distribution of the weights values was found to exhibit a conspicuous structure: the high-value weights were grouped in what we call clusters. Other zones are quite flat and characterized by low-value weights. Clusters are defined as particular groups of adjoining neurons which have strong and privileged connections with another neighborhood of neurons. The clusters of the trained network are reminiscent of the small clusters or patches that have been found experimentally in the nucleus prepositus hypoglossi, where the neural integrator is located. A study was conducted to determine the conditions of emergence of these clusters in our network: they include the fixation of the weight sign, the introduction of a distance, and a convergence of the information from the hidden layer to the motoneurons. We conclude that this spontaneous emergence of clusters in artificial neural networks; performing a temporal integration, is due to computational constraints, with a restricted space of solutions. Thus, information processing could induce the emergence of iterated patterns in biological neural networks.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Eye Movements / physiology
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Neural Networks, Computer*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Oculomotor Nerve / physiology*