MAR 15, 2018 6:00 AM PDT

Keynote Presentation: Reinforcement Learning: Mechanisms and Implications

Presented at: Neuroscience 2018
Speaker
  • Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurological Surgery, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center
    Biography
      Dr. Emad Nader Eskandar, MD, is a Professor and Chairman in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Medical Center. He attended and graduated from University Of California, California College Of Medicine in 1993, having over 25 years of diverse experience, especially in Neurosurgery.

    Abstract

    Reinforcement learning is a critical process though to involve the cortex, striatum, and dopaminergic circuitry.  Work from our group has found that the caudate (Cd) and dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) encode unexpectedly positive outcomes, consistent with a reward prediction error.  In addition, neurons in both structures encode unexpectedly negative outcomes, which is not yet well-explained.  Moreover, this process is amenable to modulation.  Experiments in rodents, primates, and humans have consistently demonstrated that it is possible to enhance learning with timed stimulation in the Cd.  In animal models of brain injury, this stimulation resulted in accelerated recovery.   Many clinical entities can be conceptualized as disorders of this process, whether it is reduced ability to learn new associations or the inability to replace useless or maladaptive associations such as tics or compulsions. The broader implication is that timed stimulation could be clinically useful in treating disorders beyond brain injury.


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