Professor Alison R. Preston | Hippocampal-prefrontal hierarchical representations of experience guide generalization and inference

Mind Meeting

  • Date: Oct 14, 2021
  • Time: 15:30 - 17:00
  • Speaker: Professor Alison R. Preston
  • Departments of Neuroscience and Psychology, College of Natural Science, University of Texas at Austin, USA
  • Location: MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences
  • Room: Zoom Meeting
  • Host: Department of Psychology
  • Contact:
We acquire knowledge by connecting events that are experienced at different times and places, forming cognitive maps that represent the commonalities among and differences between individual events and their elements. In this talk, I will highlight the role of hippocampus and prefrontal cortex in forming domain-general cognitive maps that exaggerate event commonalities and differences simultaneously, further showing how distorted maps bias decision making. Using neurocomputational approaches, I will present additional evidence that hippocampal and prefrontal cognitive maps reflect abstract representational geometries that code the regular structure of the environment, promoting generalization through inference. I will end by showing that prefrontal cortex supports efficient formation of abstract knowledge through a process akin to goal-directed dimensionality reduction. Collectively, these data show how neural representations extend knowledge beyond direct experience to allow for adaptive decision making in new contexts.

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