November 13, 2018
Myhal Centre, Room 370
RSVP by: 12 noon, Monday 12 November 2018 using the below link to be included in the catering order.
Prof. Michael Mack (Psychology)
The computations, representations, and neural dynamics of learning.
The learning brain faces a complex challenge: new information must be evaluated and integrated into flexible knowledge structures to support novel decisions. Characterizing the dynamic coordination of learning’s component processes is key to understanding how we best learn and requires an approach grounded in psychological theory, mathematical formalism, and neural mechanism. In this talk, I will describe this multidisciplinary approach to cognitive neuroscience by presenting two studies that target the learning brain. First, I will highlight the role of selective attention in learning by showing how our ability to focus on goal-relevant information dynamically shapes neural representations of category knowledge. Second, I will present a new study that aims to characterize how brain networks drive successful learning. Collectively, these findings support a neurocomputational framework for learning and decision making that highlights the mutual interaction of selective attention and knowledge formation. I will conclude with a discussion of ongoing and planned research that leverages this framework to investigate broader questions at the intersection of psychology and engineering including optimizing real-world decisions to improve waste sorting and identifying the neurocognitive impacts of indoor air quality.