June 24, 2015

Biologically realistic mechanisms for supervised learning

When we learn to do something new, we are often provided with an explicit example of how we should perform. For example, when we learn to play an instrument, we may have a teacher who corrects our mistakes by showing us the proper way to play. This form of learning is referred to as supervised learning, and although it is probably important for many of the things we learn in life, scientists know almost nothing about how the brain actually does it. Interestingly, computer scientists have been able to develop algorithms for supervised learning that have been incredibly successful. These […]
June 24, 2015

Multisensory integration and learning in the superior colliculus

Deep in an evolutionarily ancient region of our brains, called the superior colliculus, neurons combine visual, auditory and tactile information to generate a map of important objects in the world and orient our bodies towards or away from them. This is critical for our ability to rapidly, and unconsciously respond to things around us. However, the capabilities of the superior colliculus are not hardwired. Rather, they develop in early life through a process of sensory-driven learning. We are interested in understanding what different genetic sub-types of neurons exist in the colliculus and what their functional roles are in multisensory integration. […]
June 24, 2015

Multiple memory systems for enhanced reinforcement learning

Throughout our lives, we learn from the positive or negative consequences of our actions. In machine learning applications, this is referred to as reinforcement learning. Often, this type of learning is implicit, or subconscious. But sometimes, we also have explicit memories for what happened to us and we use these memories to guide our actions. Not all of our memories are stored by our brains in the same way, though. Some of our memories are very detailed, giving us the ability to recall specific events and remember what it felt like when we were living it. Our recent memories are […]