The primate brain is 'pre-adapted' to face potentially any situation

June 10, 2016

Scientists have shown how the brain anticipates all of the new situations that it may encounter in a lifetime by creating a special kind of neural network that is "pre-adapted" to face any eventuality. This emerges from a new neuroscience study published in PLOS Computational Biology.

Enel et al at the INSERM in France investigate one of the most noteworthy properties of primate behavior, its diversity and adaptability. Human and non-human primates can learn an astonishing variety of novel behaviors that could not have been directly anticipated by evolution -- we now understand that this ability to cope with new situations is due to the "pre-adapted" nature of the primate brain.

This study shows that this seemingly miraculous pre-adaptation comes from connections between neurons that form recurrent loops where inputs can rebound and mix in the network, like waves in a pond, thus called "reservoir" computing. This mix of the inputs allows a potentially universal representation of combinations of the inputs that can then be used to learn the right behaviour for a new situation.

The authors demonstrate this by training a reservoir network to perform a novel problem solving task. They then compared the activity of neurons in the model with activity of neurons in the prefrontal cortex of a research primate that was trained to perform the same task. Remarkably, there were striking similarities in the activation of neurons in both the reservoir model and the primate.

This breakthrough shows that we have taken big step towards understanding the local recurrent connectivity in the brain that prepares primates to face unlimited situations. This research shows that by allowing essentially unlimited combinations of internal representations in the network of the brain, one of them is always on hand for the given situation.
-end-
In your coverage please use this URL to provide access to the freely available article in PLOS Computational Biology: http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.pcbi.1004967

Contact:

Peter Ford Dominey
peter.dominey@inserm.fr
Phone Number 33-472913484

Citation: Enel P, Procyk E, Quilodran R, Dominey PF (2016) Reservoir Computing Properties of Neural Dynamics in Prefrontal Cortex. PLoS Comput Biol 12(6): e1004967. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004967

Image Credit: Craig ONeal / Flickr

Image Link:http://blogs.plos.org/everyone/files/2016/06/Dominey-striking-image.jpg

Funding: The present work was funded by European research projects IST- 231267 (Organic), FP7 270490 (EFAA), FP7 612139 (WYSIWYD), and CRCNS NSF-ANR ANR-14-NEUC-0005-1 (Spaquence). EP is funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche ANR-06-JCJC-0048 and ANR- 11- BSV4-0006, and by the labex CORTEX ANR-11- LABX-0042. The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

About PLOS Computational Biology

PLOS Computational Biology features works of exceptional significance that further our understanding of living systems at all scales through the application of computational methods. For more information follow @PLOSCompBiol on Twitter or contact ploscompbiol@plos.org.

Media and Copyright Information

For information about PLOS Computational Biology relevant to journalists, bloggers and press officers, including details of our press release process and embargo policy, visit http://journals.plos.org/ploscompbiol/s/press-and-media .

PLOS Journals publish under a Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits free reuse of all materials published with the article, so long as the work is cited.

About the Public Library of Science

The Public Library of Science (PLOS) PLOS is a nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization founded to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication. For more information, visit http://www.plos.org.

Disclaimer

This press release refers to upcoming articles in PLOS Computational Biology. The releases have been provided by the article authors and/or journal staff. Any opinions expressed in these are the personal views of the contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLOS. PLOS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the release and article and your use of such information.

PLOS

Related Neurons Articles from Brightsurf:

Paying attention to the neurons behind our alertness
The neurons of layer 6 - the deepest layer of the cortex - were examined by researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University to uncover how they react to sensory stimulation in different behavioral states.

Trying to listen to the signal from neurons
Toyohashi University of Technology has developed a coaxial cable-inspired needle-electrode.

A mechanical way to stimulate neurons
Magnetic nanodiscs can be activated by an external magnetic field, providing a research tool for studying neural responses.

Extraordinary regeneration of neurons in zebrafish
Biologists from the University of Bayreuth have discovered a uniquely rapid form of regeneration in injured neurons and their function in the central nervous system of zebrafish.

Dopamine neurons mull over your options
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba have found that dopamine neurons in the brain can represent the decision-making process when making economic choices.

Neurons thrive even when malnourished
When animal, insect or human embryos grow in a malnourished environment, their developing nervous systems get first pick of any available nutrients so that new neurons can be made.

The first 3D map of the heart's neurons
An interdisciplinary research team establishes a new technological pipeline to build a 3D map of the neurons in the heart, revealing foundational insight into their role in heart attacks and other cardiac conditions.

Mapping the neurons of the rat heart in 3D
A team of researchers has developed a virtual 3D heart, digitally showcasing the heart's unique network of neurons for the first time.

How to put neurons into cages
Football-shaped microscale cages have been created using special laser technologies.

A molecule that directs neurons
A research team coordinated by the University of Trento studied a mass of brain cells, the habenula, linked to disorders like autism, schizophrenia and depression.

Read More: Neurons News and Neurons Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.