Gioved-ISTC: Giovanni Pezzulo presents his work on "Planning and the rat hippocampus - was Tolman right?"

19 Nov 2015 - 12:00 to 13:30

Title: Planning and the rat hippocampus - was Tolman right? 

More than 50 years ago, Tolman suggested that rats are cognitive creatures that plan routes to goals (not just associate stimuli to rewards). I will discuss recent neurophysiological findings and computational modeling studies that are shedding light on the putative neuronal underpinnings of deliberate forms of (spatial) choice and planning processes. 

First, I will review the role of internally generated sequences in the rat hippocampus: structured, multi-neuron firing patterns in the network that are not confined to signaling the current state or location of the animal, but are generated on the basis of internal brain dynamics. Neurophysiological studies suggest that such sequences fulfill functions in memory consolidation, augmentation of representations, internal simulation, and recombination of acquired information. 

Second, from a computational perspective, I will discuss how internally generated sequences might support (spatial) planning, goal-directed choices, and (Tolman's) “vicarious trial and error” - and I will point to open research questions that remain to be answered. 

Background paper: 

Pezzulo, G., van der Meer MA, Lansink, C. S., Pennartz, C. (2014) Internally generated sequences in learning and executing goal-directed behavior. Trends in Cognitive Sciences
18(12), 647–657

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