The Fall 2021 Brains, Minds, and Machines (BMM) Seminar Series will be hosted in a hybrid format. Please see the information included below regarding attending the event either in-person or remotely via Zoom connection
Please note, MIT is requiring that all attendees, including MIT COVIDpass users, sign-in to the event prior to entering the auditorium.
Abstract: Songbird vocalizations are produced by a sparse sequence of spike bursts in a motor circuit that controls the vocal output on a fast (10ms) timescale. This sparse sequence is also transmitted to song learning circuits, presumably to control the temporal specificity of vocal learning, a process thought to proceed by mechanisms similar to reinforcement learning (RL). Electrophysiological recordings in young birds have revealed that such sequences do not exist at the earliest stages of learning, and emerge only gradually during song acquisition. How does this sparse temporal basis, or state space, emerge during development? Songbirds learn their vocalizations by imitating the song of an adult bird, suggesting that the auditory memory of the tutor song may play a role in setting up sequences in the motor system, creating a state space custom built for a given tutor song. I will describe a model for how temporal sequences to support RL of this complex behavioral pattern may be constructed in the brain, and will propose a hypothesis for how the auditory system could shape these sequences to align with a memory of the tutor song, thus facilitating song evaluation.
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