The Stanford Center for Mind, Brain, Computation and Technology (MBCT) seminar series explores ways in which computational and technical approaches are being used to advance the frontiers of neuroscience.
Yael Niv, PhD
Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
Latent causes, prediction errors, and the organization of memory
No two events are alike. But still, we learn, which means that we implicitly decide what events are similar enough that experience with one can inform us about what to do in another. We have suggested that this relies on an implicit parsing of incoming information into “clusters” according to inferred hidden (latent) causes. Moreover, we have suggested that unexpected information (that is, a prediction error) is key to this separation into clusters. In this talk, I will demonstrate these ideas through behavioral experiments showing evidence for clustering in animals and humans, and illustrating the effects of prediction errors on the organization of memory. I will end by tying the different findings together into a hypothesis about how information about events is organized in our brain.