Spiking neural networks, thanks to their sensitivity to the timing of the inputs, are a promising tool for unsupervised processing of spatio-temporal data. However, they do not perform as well as the traditional machine learning approaches and their real-world applications are still limited. Various supervised and reinforcement learning methods for optimising spiking neural networks have been proposed, but more recently the evolutionary approach regained attention as a tool for training neural networks.
Here, we describe a simple evolutionary approach for optimising spiking neural networks. This is the first published use of evolutionary algorithm to develop hyperparameters for fully unsupervised spike-timing-dependent learning for pattern clustering using spiking neural networks. Our results show that combining evolution and unsupervised learning leads to faster convergence on the optimal solutions, better stability of fit solutions and higher fitness of the whole population than using each approach separately.