CBMM Brains, Minds, and Machines Seminar Series: Efficient representation, learning, and planning through abstraction: clustering cognitive spaces into submaps

Photo of Prof. Ila Fiete (MIT BCS)
September 14, 2021 - 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Prof. Ila Fiete, MIBR, BCS Dept., MIT


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

Abstract: Episodic memory involves fragmenting the continuous stream of experience into discrete episodes. Not coincidentally, the hippocampus, which plays a central role in both episodic memory and spatial navigation, represents large spatial environments in a fragmented way even when explored in a continuous trajectory. In non-spatial and non-memory contexts too, humans report sudden contextual re-anchoring or re-orientation when reading garden path sentences ('Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.") or watching a movie with viewpoint changes. In this talk, I will describe a theory for the online and real-time generation of fragmented representations and contextual re-anchoring from continuous experience that resemble those obtained by principled but offline and computationally complex information-based algorithms. The resulting fragmentations closely match those observed from neural recordings in animals navigating through complex environments. I will discuss the utility of map fragmentation, as a form of state abstraction that enables representation fidelity, flexible and rapid learning through reuse of existing fragments, and many-fold improvements in the ability to plan and navigate through complex environments relative to more global representations.

Speaker Biography: Fiete joined the McGovern Institute as an associate investigator in early 2019, soon after arriving at MIT to join the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Fiete earned a BS in Mathematics and Physics at the University of Michigan, obtaining her PhD at Harvard University in the Department of Physics in 2004. She conducted her postdoctoral work at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara while she was also a visiting member of the Center for Theoretical Biophysics at the University of California, San Diego. Fiete subsequently spent two years at Caltech as a Broad Fellow in brain circuitry, then joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin.

Link  to Fiete Lab: https://fietelab.mit.edu/

Guidance for attending in-person:

MIT is requiring that all attendees, even MIT COVIDpass members, will be asked to sign-in to attend the talk in-person. The information that we are required to collect includes the attendee's name and cell phone number or email address, which will be used for contact tracing purposes only.

MIT attendees:
MIT attendees will need to be registered via the MIT COVIDpass system to have access to MIT Building 46.
Please visit URL https://covidpass.mit.edu/ for more information regarding MIT COVIDpass.

Non-MIT attendees:
MIT is currently welcoming visitors to attend talks in person. All visitors to the MIT campus are required to follow MIT COVID19 protocols, see URL https://now.mit.edu/policies/campus-access-and-visitors/.  Specifically, visitors are required to sign an attendee and contact tracking waiver upon arrival to the MIT campus and must wear a face-covering/mask while indoors. Please plan to arrive early complete the required attendee waiver prior to the start of the talk.
Access to MIT Bldg. 46 is restricted and visitors must be met at the door. Building access for this talk will be limited to the MIT BCS Dept. entrance at 43 Vassar Street, from 3:45 PM ET to 4:15 PM ET. This entrance is located on the street level - directly across from the Frank Gehry-designed CSAIL Stata Building. The entrance will be manned from 3:45 PM ET to 4:15 PM ET. We regret that we do not have sufficient staff to accommodate late arrivals.

Details to attend talk remotely via Zoom:

Zoom connection link: https://mit.zoom.us/j/95684363894?pwd=bkxac05DSGtuZysvcDlJZVpKdVZEUT09


MIT Building 46 | Brain and Cognitive Sciences Complex
September 14, 2021
4:00 pm to 5:30 pm
Singleton Auditorium (46-3002)