A common problem in tasks involving the integration of spatial information from multiple senses, or in sensorimotor coordination, is that different modalities represent space in different frames of reference. Coordinate transformations between different reference frames are therefore required. One way to achieve this relies on the encoding of spatial information using population codes. The set of network responses to stimuli in different locations (tuning curves) constitute a basis set of functions which can be combined
linearly through weighted synaptic connections in order to approximate non-linear transformations of the input variables. The question then arises how the appropriate synaptic connectivity is obtained.
This model shows that a network of spiking neurons can learn the coordinate transformation from one frame of reference to another, with connectivity that develops continuously in an unsupervised manner, based only on the correlations available in the environment, and with a biologically-realistic plasticity mechanism (spike timing-dependent plasticity).
Davison AP, Frégnac Y (2006) Learning cross-modal spatial transformations through spike timing-dependent plasticity. J Neurosci 26:5604-15 [PubMed]