Solving the distal reward problem with rare neural correlations: from theory to robots


Invited talk

Speaker: Andrea Soltoggio

Venue: School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham, UK

Date and time: 4PM, 31st May 2013

Note: descrption at:


When learning by trial and error, the results of actions, manifested as rewards or punishments, occur often seconds after the actions that caused them. How can a reward be associated with an earlier action when the neural activity that caused that action is no longer present in the network? This problem is referred to as the distal reward problem.

A recent study suggests that the rarity of neural correlations may play a pivotal role in neural computation and in the regulation of plasticity. This talk will focus on general plasticity mechanisms such as Hebbian plasticity, neuromodulation and eligibility traces, and will then suggest how those mechanisms can be combined to produce useful neural dynamics and solve the distal reward problem. The efficacy of the model is shown in classical and operant conditioning tests in human-robot interactions. The proposed models also points to open questions over the nature of eligibility traces and the function of short- and long-term plasticity.

More on this topic at:


Andrea Soltoggio


4PM, 31st May 2013


Birmingham, UK


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