Fronto-Striatal Circuits Optimize Feature-based Attention and Learning

Our new publication (Oemisch et al. (2018) Feature Specific Prediction Errors and Surprise across Macaque Fronto-Striatal Circuits during Attention and Learning) provides the first 4-brain-area survey of how prediction error information in the anterior cingulate – ventral striatum and lateral prefrontal – caudate fronto-striatal loops relate to feature-based attention and learning. We found prediction errors that encode the specific stimulus feature that was reward relevant. This coding took place with stimuli having multiple feature dimensions. Reporting that neurons track the specific reward relevant feature suggests an attractive solution of credit assignment through a distributed feature-specific eligibility trace enabling ‘goal-directed’ synaptic plasticity changes across the entire fronto-striatal network.

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Phase-specific Activation Induces Latent Connectivity Changes

A recent paper provides rare causal evidence that phase-specific stimulation during beta oscillation bursts lead to transient changes in effective (latent) connectivity. This finding and its potentially widespread implications are discussed in our paper Womelsdorf T, Hoffman K (2018) Latent Connectivity: Neuronal Oscillations Can Be Leveraged for Transient Plasticity. Current Biology. 28(16):R879-R882..

3 minute Thesis Competition

Congratulations to Ben to win the York University 3 minute thesis competition in presenting his MSc graduation work ! Here is the University’s press release about the 2016 YorkU 3MT Winner ! Good luck from the laboratory when moving to the provincial level competition (still with only 3 minutes…for the whole thesis).

First Neuropharmacological Contribution

Congratulations to Ali and Mariann for the first neuropharmacological contribution from our laboratory with the article A computational psychiatry approach identifies how alpha-2A noradrenergic agonist Guanfacine affects feature-based reinforcement learning in the macaque . This study first surveys all 14 different tasks that have ever been used with Guanfacine in nonhuman primate studies and than […]