Current neural networks are mostly built on the MP model, which usually formulates the neuron as executing an activation function on the real-valued weighted aggregation of signals received from other neurons. This letter proposes the flexible transmitter (FT) model, a novel bio-plausible neuron model with flexible synaptic plasticity. The FT model employs a pair of parameters to model the neurotransmitters between neurons and puts up a neuron-exclusive variable to record the regulated neurotrophin density. Thus, the FT model can be formulated as a two-variable, two-valued function, taking the commonly used MP neuron model as its particular case. This modeling manner makes the FT model biologically more realistic and capable of handling complicated data, even spatiotemporal data. To exhibit its power and potential, we present the flexible transmitter network (FTNet), which is built on the most common fully connected feedforward architecture taking the FT model as the basic building block. FTNet allows gradient calculation and can be implemented by an improved backpropagation algorithm in the complex-valued domain. Experiments on a broad range of tasks show that FTNet has power and potential in processing spatiotemporal data. This study provides an alternative basic building block in neural networks and exhibits the feasibility of developing artificial neural networks with neuronal plasticity.

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