Mental imagery in the navigation domain: A computational model of sensory-motor simulation mechanisms

Recent experimental evidence indicates that animals can use mental simulation to make decisions about the actions to take during goal-directed navigation. The principal brain areas found to be active during this process are the hippocampus, the ventral striatum and the sensory-motor cortex. In this paper, we present a computational model that includes biological aspects of this circuit and explains mechanistically how it may be used to imagine and evaluate future events. Its most salient characteristic is that choices about actions are made by simulating movements and their sensory effects using the same brain areas that are active during overt execution. More precisely, the simulation of an action (e.g., walking) creates a new sensory pattern that is evaluated in the same way as real inputs. The model is validated in a navigation task in which a simulated rat is placed in a complex maze. We show that hippocampal and striatal cells are activated to simulate paths, to retrieve their estimated value and to make decisions. We link these results with a general framework that sees the brain as a predictive device that can 'detach' itself from the here-and-now of current perception using mechanisms such as episodic memories, motor and visual imagery. © The Author(s) 2013.

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Chersi, Fabian
Donnarumma, Francesco
Pezzulo, Giovanni
MIT Press,, Cambridge, MA , Stati Uniti d'America
Adaptive behavior 21 (2013): 251–262. doi:10.1177/1059712313488789
info:cnr-pdr/source/autori:Chersi, Fabian; Donnarumma, Francesco; Pezzulo, Giovanni/titolo:Mental imagery in the navigation domain: A computational model of sensory-motor simulation mechanisms/doi:10.1177/1059712313488789/rivista:Adaptive behavior/anno:20
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