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Virtual fMRI brown bag: April 16, 2021

Please join us for a talk given by Oded Bein, a postdoctoral researcher in Yael Niv's lab at Princeton University.

Time: 12:00-1:00pm

Place: Zoom

Learning and updating structured knowledge

During our everyday lives, much of what we experience is familiar and predictable. We typically follow the same morning routine, take the same route to work, and encounter the same colleagues. With time and repetition, we come to learn the structure of ongoing experience. However, to be adaptive, a cognitive system must know not only how to learn the repeated and predictable nature of the environment but also how to update our knowledge when needed. For example, when we encounter a surprising event that violates our expectations, it is adaptive to update our internal model of the world in order to make better predictions in the future. The hippocampus is thought to support both the learning of the predictable structure of our environment, as well as the detection and encoding of violations. Of note, the hippocampus is a complex and heterogeneous structure, composed of different subfields that are thought to subserve different functions. In my talk, I'll show that during learning of repeated and predicted events, hippocampal subfields differentially integrate and separate event representations, thus learning the structure of ongoing experience. I then move on to discuss how events that violate our predictions lead to a shift in communication between hippocampal subfields, potentially allowing for efficient encoding of the novel and surprising information. Importantly, the hippocampus does not work in isolation, but rather communicates with the cortex during new learning. In the last part of my talk, I asked how the cortex and the hippocampus differently represent novel associations, as we update old knowledge with new information. Together, these studies advance our understanding of how we adaptively learn and update our knowledge.