skip to main content

Title: Computational models of adaptive behavior and prefrontal cortex
Abstract

The real world is uncertain, and while ever changing, it constantly presents itself in terms of new sets of behavioral options. To attain the flexibility required to tackle these challenges successfully, most mammalian brains are equipped with certain computational abilities that rely on the prefrontal cortex (PFC). By examining learning in terms of internal models associating stimuli, actions, and outcomes, we argue here that adaptive behavior relies on specific interactions between multiple systems including: (1) selective models learning stimulus–action associations through rewards; (2) predictive models learning stimulus- and/or action–outcome associations through statistical inferences anticipating behavioral outcomes; and (3) contextual models learning external cues associated with latent states of the environment. Critically, the PFC combines these internal models by forming task sets to drive behavior and, moreover, constantly evaluates the reliability of actor task sets in predicting external contingencies to switch between task sets or create new ones. We review different models of adaptive behavior to demonstrate how their components map onto this unifying framework and specific PFC regions. Finally, we discuss how our framework may help to better understand the neural computations and the cognitive architecture of PFC regions guiding adaptive behavior.

Authors:
;
Award ID(s):
1943767
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10286912
Journal Name:
Neuropsychopharmacology
Volume:
47
Issue:
1
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 58-71
ISSN:
0893-133X
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Background

    Repetitive action, resistance to environmental change and fine motor disruptions are hallmarks of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other neurodevelopmental disorders, and vary considerably from individual to individual. In animal models, conventional behavioral phenotyping captures such fine-scale variations incompletely. Here we observed male and female C57BL/6J mice to methodically catalog adaptive movement over multiple days and examined two rodent models of developmental disorders against this dynamic baseline. We then investigated the behavioral consequences of a cerebellum-specific deletion in Tsc1 protein and a whole-brain knockout in Cntnap2 protein in mice. Both of these mutations are found in clinical conditions and have been associated with ASD.

    Methods

    We used advances in computer vision and deep learning, namely a generalized form of high-dimensional statistical analysis, to develop a framework for characterizing mouse movement on multiple timescales using a single popular behavioral assay, the open-field test. The pipeline takes virtual markers from pose estimation to find behavior clusters and generate wavelet signatures of behavior classes. We measured spatial and temporal habituation to a new environment across minutes and days, different types of self-grooming, locomotion and gait.

    Results

    Both Cntnap2 knockouts and L7-Tsc1 mutants showed forelimb lag during gait. L7-Tsc1 mutants and Cntnap2 knockouts showed complexmore »defects in multi-day adaptation, lacking the tendency of wild-type mice to spend progressively more time in corners of the arena. In L7-Tsc1 mutant mice, failure to adapt took the form of maintained ambling, turning and locomotion, and an overall decrease in grooming. However, adaptation in these traits was similar between wild-type mice and Cntnap2 knockouts. L7-Tsc1 mutant and Cntnap2 knockout mouse models showed different patterns of behavioral state occupancy.

    Limitations

    Genetic risk factors for autism are numerous, and we tested only two. Our pipeline was only done under conditions of free behavior. Testing under task or social conditions would reveal more information about behavioral dynamics and variability.

    Conclusions

    Our automated pipeline for deep phenotyping successfully captures model-specific deviations in adaptation and movement as well as differences in the detailed structure of behavioral dynamics. The reported deficits indicate that deep phenotyping constitutes a robust set of ASD symptoms that may be considered for implementation in clinical settings as quantitative diagnosis criteria.

    « less
  2. Abstract Behavior involves the ongoing interaction between an organism and its environment. One of the prevailing theories of adaptive behavior is that organisms are constantly making predictions about their future environmental stimuli. However, how they acquire that predictive information is still poorly understood. Two complementary mechanisms have been proposed: predictions are generated from an agent’s internal model of the world or predictions are extracted directly from the environmental stimulus. In this work, we demonstrate that predictive information, measured using bivariate mutual information, cannot distinguish between these two kinds of systems. Furthermore, we show that predictive information cannot distinguish between organisms that are adapted to their environments and random dynamical systems exposed to the same environment. To understand the role of predictive information in adaptive behavior, we need to be able to identify where it is generated. To do this, we decompose information transfer across the different components of the organism-environment system and track the flow of information in the system over time. To validate the proposed framework, we examined it on a set of computational models of idealized agent-environment systems. Analysis of the systems revealed three key insights. First, predictive information, when sourced from the environment, can be reflected inmore »any agent irrespective of its ability to perform a task. Second, predictive information, when sourced from the nervous system, requires special dynamics acquired during the process of adapting to the environment. Third, the magnitude of predictive information in a system can be different for the same task if the environmental structure changes.« less
  3. Abstract

    Rapid and flexible learning during behavioral choices is critical to our daily endeavors and constitutes a hallmark of dynamic reasoning. An important paradigm to examine flexible behavior involves learning new arbitrary associations mapping visual inputs to motor outputs. We conjectured that visuomotor rules are instantiated by translating visual signals into actions through dynamic interactions between visual, frontal and motor cortex. We evaluated the neural representation of such visuomotor rules by performing intracranial field potential recordings in epilepsy subjects during a rule-learning delayed match-to-behavior task. Learning new visuomotor mappings led to the emergence of specific responses associating visual signals with motor outputs in 3 anatomical clusters in frontal, anteroventral temporal and posterior parietal cortex. After learning, mapping selective signals during the delay period showed interactions with visual and motor signals. These observations provide initial steps towards elucidating the dynamic circuits underlying flexible behavior and how communication between subregions of frontal, temporal, and parietal cortex leads to rapid learning of task-relevant choices.

  4. Abstract Background How the brain develops accurate models of the external world and generates appropriate behavioral responses is a vital question of widespread multidisciplinary interest. It is increasingly understood that brain signal variability—posited to enhance perception, facilitate flexible cognitive representations, and improve behavioral outcomes—plays an important role in neural and cognitive development. The ability to perceive, interpret, and respond to complex and dynamic social information is particularly critical for the development of adaptive learning and behavior. Social perception relies on oxytocin-regulated neural networks that emerge early in development. Methods We tested the hypothesis that individual differences in the endogenous oxytocinergic system early in life may influence social behavioral outcomes by regulating variability in brain signaling during social perception. In study 1, 55 infants provided a saliva sample at 5 months of age for analysis of individual differences in the oxytocinergic system and underwent electroencephalography (EEG) while listening to human vocalizations at 8 months of age for the assessment of brain signal variability. Infant behavior was assessed via parental report. In study 2, 60 infants provided a saliva sample and underwent EEG while viewing faces and objects and listening to human speech and water sounds at 4 months of age. Infant behavior was assessedmore »via parental report and eye tracking. Results We show in two independent infant samples that increased brain signal entropy during social perception is in part explained by an epigenetic modification to the oxytocin receptor gene ( OXTR ) and accounts for significant individual differences in social behavior in the first year of life. These results are measure-, context-, and modality-specific: entropy, not standard deviation, links OXTR methylation and infant behavior; entropy evoked during social perception specifically explains social behavior only; and only entropy evoked during social auditory perception predicts infant vocalization behavior. Conclusions Demonstrating these associations in infancy is critical for elucidating the neurobiological mechanisms accounting for individual differences in cognition and behavior relevant to neurodevelopmental disorders. Our results suggest that an epigenetic modification to the oxytocin receptor gene and brain signal entropy are useful indicators of social development and may hold potential diagnostic, therapeutic, and prognostic value.« less
  5. Abstract

    Conflicts at various stages of cognition can cause interference effects on behavior. Two well-studied forms of cognitive interference are stimulus–stimulus (e.g., Flanker), where the conflict arises from incongruence between the task-relevant stimulus and simultaneously presented irrelevant stimulus information, and stimulus-response (e.g., Simon), where interference is the result of an incompatibility between the spatial location of the task-relevant stimulus and a prepotent motor mapping of the expected response. Despite substantial interest in the neural and behavioral underpinnings of cognitive interference, it remains uncertain how differing sources of cognitive conflict might interact, and the spectrally specific neural dynamics that index this phenomenon are poorly understood. Herein, we used an adapted version of the multisource interference task and magnetoencephalography to investigate the spectral, temporal, and spatial dynamics of conflict processing in healthy adults (N = 23). We found a double-dissociation such that, in isolation, stimulus–stimulus interference was indexed by alpha (8–14 Hz), but not gamma-frequency (64–76 Hz) oscillations in the lateral occipital regions, while stimulus–response interference was indexed by gamma oscillations in nearby cortices, but not by alpha oscillations. Surprisingly, we also observed a superadditive effect of simultaneously presented interference types (multisource) on task performance and gamma oscillations in superior parietal cortex.