The Emergence of Selective Attention through Probabilistic Associations between Stimuli and Actions

In this paper we show how a multilayer neural network trained to master a context-dependent task in which the action co-varies with a certain stimulus in a first context and with a second stimulus in an alternative context exhibits selective attention, i.e. filtering out of irrelevant information. This effect is rather robust and it is observed in several variations of the experiment in which the characteristics of the network as well as of the training procedure have been varied. Our result demonstrates how the filtering out of irrelevant information can originate spontaneously as a consequence of the regularities present in context-dependent training set and therefore does not necessarily depend on specific architectural constraints. The post-evaluation of the network in an instructed-delay experimental scenario shows how the behaviour of the network is consistent with the data collected in neuropsychological studies. The analysis of the network at the end of the training process indicates how selective attention originates as a result of the effects caused by relevant and irrelevant stimuli mediated by context-dependent and context-independent bidirectional associations between stimuli and actions that are extracted by the network during the learning.

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Simione, Luca
Nolfi, Stefano
Public Library of Science, San Francisco, CA , Stati Uniti d'America
PloS one 11 (2016). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0166174
info:cnr-pdr/source/autori:Simione, Luca; Nolfi, Stefano/titolo:The Emergence of Selective Attention through Probabilistic Associations between Stimuli and Actions/doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0166174/rivista:PloS one/anno:2016/pagina_da:/pagina_a:/intervallo
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Ritratto di Stefano Nolfi
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