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A modeling framework for adaptive lifelong learning with transfer and savings through gating in the prefrontal cortex

By Ben Tsuda, Kay M. Tye, Hava T Siegelmann, Terrence J. Sejnowski

Posted 12 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.11.984757 (published DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2009591117)

The prefrontal cortex encodes and stores numerous, often disparate, schemas and flexibly switches between them. Recent research on artificial neural networks trained by reinforcement learning has made it possible to model fundamental processes underlying schema encoding and storage. Yet how the brain is able to create new schemas while preserving and utilizing old schemas remains unclear. Here we propose a simple neural network framework based on a modification of the mixture of experts architecture to model the prefrontal cortex's ability to flexibly encode and use multiple disparate schemas. We show how incorporation of gating naturally leads to transfer learning and robust memory savings. We then show how phenotypic impairments observed in patients with prefrontal damage are mimicked by lesions of our network. Our architecture, which we call DynaMoE, provides a fundamental framework for how the prefrontal cortex may handle the abundance of schemas necessary to navigate the real world.

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