Information demand as a window to cognition - Jacqueline Gottlieb

Event Details:

Monday, April 20, 2020
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11:00am to 11:00am PDT
Event Sponsor
Stanford Center for Mind, Brain, Computation and Technology
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Jacqueline Gottlieb

Columbia University


A rapidly growing literature has recently emphasized the importance of our sense-making instincts, including complex investigative behaviors such as curiosity, for behavior and brain function. As this literature notes, animals have a biological imperative to minimize uncertainty and maximize prediction accuracy. And yet, an understanding of the brain’s various uncertainty reduction strategies remains elusive. An important limitation is the lack of behavioral tasks that allow us to empirically manipulate and examine the cognitive processes that animals use to gather information for learning or the guidance of actions. The work in my laboratory has sought to fill this gap by designing approaches rooted in saccadic visual sampling to study the neurobiology of information demand. I will present a simple analysis showing that, in a Bayesian framework, optimal information gathering is based on the integration of prior uncertainty and the diagnosticity (reliability) of available cues.  I will show evidence that parietal neurons involved the orienting of attention and gaze encode these two quantities in ways that correlate with target selection for saccadic eye movements and the post-saccadic processing of the information. Time permitting, I will discuss the roles of rewards and accuracy gains in gathering information in instrumental and non-instrumental conditions – i.e., to guide future actions or merely satisfy curiosity.


Curriculum vitae

Related Papers

[1] Distinct neural mechanisms of distractor suppression in the frontal and parietal lobe.

[2] Microscopic and mesoscopic effects of reward uncertainty in monkey fronto-parietal areas