“Finding repeating patterns – a key to biological intelligence?”

Recent experimental studies have demonstrated that humans are incredibly efficient in detecting repeating patterns in streams of images or sounds. Even 2-5 repetitions can be enough for a sensory memory to be formed. How does the brain do this? I will be arguing that this sensitivity to repetition can be explained by STDP (Spike Time Dependent Plasticity) which has been shown to reinforce the synaptic weights of afferents that fire repeatedly together. We have recently devised a particular form of STDP rule that uses only binary synapses and which is particularly efficient at detecting repeating spatiotemporal pattern. Furthermore, we have shown that such rules can implemented on inexpensive FPGA hardware. Such mechanisms can potentially be implemented in custom ASIC devices that could have millions of neurons and billions of synaptic connections and that could be used for a wide range of applications.