Reinforcement Learning Predicts the Site of Plasticity for Auditory Remapping in the Barn Owl

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 7 (NIPS 1994)

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Alexandre Pouget, Cedric Deffayet, Terrence J. Sejnowski


The auditory system of the barn owl contains several spatial maps. In young barn owls raised with optical prisms over their eyes, these auditory maps are shifted to stay in register with the visual map, suggesting that the visual input imposes a frame of reference on the auditory maps. However, the optic tectum, the first site of convergence of visual with auditory information, is not the site of plasticity for the shift of the auditory maps; the plasticity occurs instead in the inferior colliculus, which contains an auditory map and projects into the optic tectum. We explored a model of the owl remapping in which a global reinforcement signal whose delivery is controlled by visual foveation. A hebb learning rule gated by rein(cid:173) forcement learned to appropriately adjust auditory maps. In addi(cid:173) tion, reinforcement learning preferentially adjusted the weights in the inferior colliculus, as in the owl brain, even though the weights were allowed to change throughout the auditory system. This ob(cid:173) servation raises the possibility that the site of learning does not have to be genetically specified, but could be determined by how the learning procedure interacts with the network architecture.


Alexandre Pouget, Cedric Deffayet, Te"ence J. Sejnowski

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