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Cogn Process. 2006 Jun;7(2):95-104. Epub 2006 Jan 28.

Conditional visuo-motor learning and dimension reduction.

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  • 1INCM UMR6193, CNRS& Aix-Marseille Universit√©, 31 Chemin Jospeh Aiguier, 13402, Marseille, France.


Conditional visuo-motor learning consists in learning by trial and error to associate visual cues with correct motor responses, that have no direct link. Converging evidence supports the role of a large brain network in this type of learning, including the prefrontal and the premotor cortex, the basal ganglia BG and the hippocampus. In this paper we focus on the role of a major structure of the BG, the striatum. We first present behavioral results and electrophysiological data recorded from this structure in monkeys engaged in learning new visuo-motor associations. Visual stimuli were presented on a video screen and the animals had to learn, by trial and error, to select the correct movement of a joystick, in order to receive a liquid reward. Behavioral results revealed that the monkeys used a sequential strategy, whereby they learned the associations one by one although they were presented randomly. Human subjects, tested on the same task, also used a sequential strategy. Neuronal recordings in monkeys revealed learning-related modulations of neural activity in the striatum. We then present a mathematical model inspired by viability theory developed to implement the use of strategies during learning. This model complements existing models of the BG based on reinforcement learning RL, which do not take into account the use of strategies to reduce the dimension of the learning space.

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