On Sequence Learning Models: Open-loop Control Not Strictly Guided by Hick’s Law

Rodrigo Pavão, Joice P. Savietto, João R. Sato, Gilberto F. Xavier and André F. Helene

According to the Hick’s law, reaction times increase linearly with the uncertainty of target stimuli. We tested the generality of this law by measuring reaction times in a human sequence learning protocol involving serial target locations which differed in transition probability and global entropy. Our results showed that sigmoid functions better describe the relationship between reaction times and uncertainty when compared to linear functions. Sequence predictability was estimated by distinct statistical predictors: conditional probability, conditional entropy, joint probability and joint entropy measures. Conditional predictors relate to closed-loop control models describing that performance is guided by on-line access to past sequence structure to predict next location. Differently, joint predictors relate to open-loop control models assuming global access of sequence structure, requiring no constant monitoring. We tested which of these predictors better describe performance on the sequence learning protocol. Results suggest that joint predictors are more accurate than conditional predictors to track performance. In conclusion, sequence learning is better described as an open-loop process which is not precisely predicted by Hick’s law.

Nonparametric statistics of dynamic networks with distinguishable nodes

Daniel Fraiman, Nicolas Fraiman and Ricardo Fraiman

The study of random graphs and networks had an explosive development in the last couple of decades. Meanwhile, techniques for the statistical analysis of sequences of networks were less developed. In this paper, we focus on networks sequences with a fixed number of labeled nodes and study some statistical problems in a nonparametric framework. We introduce natural notions of center and a depth function for networks that evolve in time. We develop several statistical techniques including testing, supervised and unsupervised classification, and some notions of principal component sets in the space of networks. Some examples and asymptotic results are given, as well as two real data examples.

Ih Equalizes Membrane Input Resistance in a Heterogeneous Population of Fusiform Neurons in the Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus

Cesar C. Ceballos, Shuang Li, Antonio C. Roque, Thanos Tzounopoulos and Ricardo M. Leão

In a neuronal population, several combinations of its ionic conductances are used to attain a specific firing phenotype. Some neurons present heterogeneity in their firing, generally produced by expression of a specific conductance, but how additional conductances vary along in order to homeostatically regulate membrane excitability is less known. Dorsal cochlear nucleus principal neurons, fusiform neurons, display heterogeneous spontaneous action potential activity and thus represent an appropriate model to study the role of different conductances in establishing firing heterogeneity. Particularly, fusiform neurons are divided into quiet, with no spontaneous firing, or active neurons, presenting spontaneous, regular firing. These modes are determined by the expression levels of an intrinsic membrane conductance, an inwardly rectifying potassium current (IKir). In this work, we tested whether other subthreshold conductances vary homeostatically to maintain membrane excitability constant across the two subtypes. We found that Ih expression covaries specifically with IKir in order to maintain membrane resistance constant. The impact of Ih on membrane resistance is dependent on the level of IKir expression, being much smaller in quiet neurons with bigger IKir, but Ih variations are not relevant for creating the quiet and active phenotypes. Finally, we demonstrate that the individual proportion of each conductance, and not their absolute conductance, is relevant for determining the neuronal firing mode. We conclude that in fusiform neurons the variations of their different subthreshold conductances are limited to specific conductances in order to create firing heterogeneity and maintain membrane homeostasis.

Random Structures in the Brain (workshop)

The Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (NeuroMat) will hold the workshop “Random Structures in the Brain” in São Paulo, from October 16 to 20, 2017. NeuroMat is hosted by the University of São Paulo and funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP).

Video presentation of ABRAÇO

Video of the NeuroMat network on the brachial plexus injury, ABRAÇO.




O Centro de Pesquisa, Inovação e Difusão em Neuromatemática está sediado na Universidade de São Paulo e é financiado pela FAPESP (Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo).


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