Talks
Spring 2018

The Prefrontal Cortex as a Meta-Reinforcement Learning System

Monday, April 16th, 2018 9:00 am9:45 am

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Over the past twenty years, neuroscience research on reward-based learning has converged on a canonical model, under which the neurotransmitter dopamine 'stamps in' associations between situations, actions and rewards by modulating the strength of synaptic connections between neurons. However, a growing number of recent findings have placed this standard model under strain. I will present computational work in which we have drawn on recent advances in artificial intelligence to introduce a new theory of reward-based learning. Here, the dopamine system trains another part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, to operate as its own free-standing learning system. This new perspective accommodates the findings that motivated the standard model, but also deals gracefully with a wider range of observations, providing a fresh foundation for future research.

Session Chair: Christos Papadimitriou