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Uncertainty and Attention in Learning and Inference

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Dayan, P. (2005). Uncertainty and Attention in Learning and Inference. Talk presented at OIST Computational Neuroscience Course (OCNC 2005). Okinawa, Japan. 2005-06-20 - 2005-07-10.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0003-711E-D
Classical and instrumental conditioning paradigms pose animals elemental (though not always elementary) inference and learning problems. Since uncertainty plays the starring role in probabilistic accounts of inference and learning, it is appealing to study conditioning through the optimal lens that uncertainty provides.

From a behavioural viewpoint, we will consider uncertainty-based accounts of two sophisticated conditioning paradigms which are often described in attentional terms: downwards unblocking, in which uncertainty apparently regulates the competition between multiple predictors of an outcome, and backwards blocking, in which anti-correlations in the uncertainties of two predictors apparently influence the course of learning.

From a neural viewpoint, we will consider the broad, though occasionally shallow, evidence that the neuromodulators acetylcholine (ACh) and norepineprhine (NE) play special roles in reporting distinct forms of uncertainty and thereby influencing aspects of conditioning and other attentional tasks.