Columbia University in the City of New York

Oct 15, 20214:00 pm

Zuckerman Institute Postdoctoral Seminar: October

Featuring Katie Insel (Shohamy Lab) and Tessa Montague (Axel Lab)

October 15th, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm at Online

Kate Insel (Shohamy Lab)
Inferring value from semantic knowledge

Flexible learning allows us to generalize across experiences and transfer knowledge to new contexts. How does generalization of semantic knowledge, such as categories and concepts, develop from childhood to adulthood? Given that semantic processes rely on cortical systems that continue to develop through young adulthood, we hypothesized that adolescents are less likely to generalize semantic knowledge to optimize decision making. I will present data from a novel category generalization task demonstrating that young adults quickly learn to infer the value of novel choices by generalizing knowledge to guide decision-making. However, young adolescents do not, and successful generalization emerges with age. These findings suggest that ongoing development constrains adaptive decision-making.

Tessa Montague (Axel Lab)
The neural basis of cuttlefish camouflage

​​​​​​​To navigate the visual world, animals create an internal representation of the environment and extract salient features, permitting the generation of appropriate behaviors. Cuttlefish present a unique system for studying the internal representation of visual stimuli. Cuttlefish dynamically change their skin color and texture to camouflage to their surroundings, creating a physical readout of what they see. The skin's “pixels” (chromatophores) are controlled by motor neurons projecting from the brain. Thus, camouflage is a visible representation of neural activity. We are using this system to understand how the physical properties of the visual world are represented by patterns of neural activity in the brain, and how this representation is transformed into an approximation of the physical world on the skin. 

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