Autonomous Learning Paradigm for Spiking Neural Networks

Junxiu Liu, Liam McDaid, Jim Harkin, Shvan Haji Karim, Anju P. Johnson, David M. Halliday, Andy Tyrrell, Jon Timmis, Alan G. Millard, James Hilder

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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Compared to biological systems, existing learning systems lack the ability to learn autonomously, especially in changing and dynamic environments. This paper addresses the issue of autonomous learning by developing a self-learning spiking neural network (SNN) and demonstrating its autonomous learning capability using a simple robot controller application. Our proposed learning rule exploits an inherit property of the existing Spike-Timing-Dependent Plasticity (STDP) rule in that if the instantaneous presynaptic frequency decreases, then for a conventional Hebbian window the STDP rule potentiates. Conversely if the instantaneous frequency increases the STDP rule depresses: the opposite is true for anti-Hebbian window. This paper will also show that obstacle avoidance is achievable using a conventional Hebbian learning window while object tracking can be learned using an anti-Hebbian learning window. Hence the proposed learning paradigm is novel in that it does not require external supervisions for either these tasks. The proposed learning paradigm also uses a previously explored astrocyte neuron interaction where a periodic Slow Inward Current (SIC) from an astrocyte can potentiate a postsynaptic neuron for a period of time: this time window can be used to strengthen/weaken synaptic pathways. An obstacle avoidance task is used for the performance analysis and results show that the SNN based robot controller has autonomous learning capabilities under the dynamic conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArtificial Neural Networks and Machine Learning – ICANN 2019
Subtitle of host publicationTheoretical Neural Computation - 28th International Conference on Artificial Neural Networks, 2019, Proceedings
EditorsIgor V. Tetko, Pavel Karpov, Fabian Theis, Vera Kurková
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-30487-4
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 9 Sep 2019

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume11727 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


  • Learning
  • Plasticity windows
  • Robots
  • SNN


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