Lectures in Higher School of Economics (Moscow), December 4-5

Лекция профессора Ягеллонского университета г-на Шведа Марчина Филипа состоится 4 декабря 2013 г в НИУ ВШЭ (Москва) в 19ч , по адресу: ул. Мясницкая, д.20 (центральный офис)в  аудитории №309
Neural systems for reading in the sighted and in the blind.

 
Reading is a remarkable feat. It operates extremely fast – 200 words per minute in mature, fluent readers - and it is acting in parallel over all the letters of a word. My research approach combines behavioral tools developed for the study of reading, state of art functional MRI, and the study of people that are special in ways interesting for the neuroscience of reading: adult illiterates, Chinese immigrants who haven’t yet mastered the alphabetic script, epileptic patients with intracranially implanted electrodes, or the congenitally blind people.
Using the above methods, our lab has been asking the following questions: 1) is there a dedicated “reading area” in the brain, or can reading achieved by a multi-functional visual recognition area? 2) What is the neural correlate of the remarkable speed of adult reading – up to 250 words per minute?
3) Which brain areas which are used for reading in the blind? The classical view predicts that Braille reading should be carried out by the somatosensory cortex reflecting the tactile nature of the task. Alternatively, the metamodal theory, which suggests that brain areas are responsive to a specific representation or computation regardless of their input-sensory-modality predicted recruitment of the very same brain areas as in the sighted.

Boris Gutkin, Professor, Ecole Normale Sup?rieure (Paris, France)

December 5, 16-40, HSE, Bolshoy Trechsvjatitelsky pereulok 3, aud.412

"A new computational model of motivated behavior: normative rationality of defending homeostasis."

What is the primary motivation for behavior? Procreation? Ensuring survival of the social group? Survival  of the individual? The latter requres that
physiological stability and homesotatic maintenance of the organism is ensured despite environmental perturbations. Efficient regulation of
internal homeostasis and defending it against perturbations requires complex behavioral strategies. However, the computational principles
mediating brain’s homeostatic regulation of reward and associative learning remain undefined. Here we develop a formal definition for primary rewards,
as outcomes fullfilling physiological needs. We then build a normative theory showing how learning motivated behavior is modulated by the internal
state of the animal. The theory alows us to prove that seeking rewards is equivalent to the fundamental objective of physiological stability. This
shows that defending physiological stability is rational from an economic point of view. We further give a formal basis for temporal discounting of
reward, as it is necessary for physiologically rational behavioral patterns. Our theory also explains how animals learn to act predictively to
preclude prospective homeostatic challenges, and attributes a normative computational role to the modulation of midbrain dopaminergic activity by
hypothalamic signals.