Previous work has suggested that an interaction between local selective (e.g., glutamatergic) excitation and global gain modulation (via norepinephrine) amplifies selectivity in information processing. Mather et al. extend this existing theory by suggesting that localized gain modulation may further mediate this effect – an interesting prospect that invites new theoretical and experimental work.
Vast spectra of biological and psychological processes are potentially involved in the mechanisms of psychiatric illness. Computational neuroscience brings a diverse toolkit to bear on understanding these processes. This chapter begins by organizing the many ways in which computational neuroscience may provide insight to the mechanisms of psychiatric illness. It then contextualizes the quest for deep mechanistic understanding through the perspective that even partial or nonmechanistic understanding can be applied productively. Finally, it questions the standards by which these approaches...
When perceiving rich sensory information, some people may integrate its various aspects, whereas other people may selectively focus on its most salient aspects. We propose that neural gain modulates the trade-off between breadth and selectivity, such that high gain focuses perception on those aspects of the information that have the strongest, most immediate influence, whereas low gain allows broader integration of different aspects. We illustrate our hypothesis using a neural-network model of ambiguous-letter perception. We then report an experiment demonstrating that, as predicted by the model, pupil-diameter indices of higher gain are associated with letter perception that is more selectively focused on the letter's shape or, if primed, its semantic content. Finally, we report a recognition-memory experiment showing that the relationship between gain and selective processing also applies when the influence of different stimulus features is voluntarily modulated by task demands.
It has been difficult to link synaptic modification to overt behavioral changes. Rodent models of DYT1 dystonia, a motor disorder caused by a single gene mutation, demonstrate increased long-term potentiation and decreased long-term depression in corticostriatal synapses. Computationally, such asymmetric learning predicts risk taking in probabilistic tasks. Here we demonstrate abnormal risk taking in DYT1 dystonia patients, which is correlated with disease severity, thereby supporting striatal plasticity in shaping choice behavior in humans.
Predicting the binding mode of flexible polypeptides to proteins is an important task that falls outside the domain of applicability of most small molecule and protein−protein docking tools. Here, we test the small molecule flexible ligand docking program Glide on a set of 19 non-\(\alpha\)-helical peptides and systematically improve pose prediction accuracy by enhancing Glide sampling for flexible polypeptides. In addition, scoring of the poses was improved by post-processing with physics-based implicit solvent MM- GBSA calculations. Using the best RMSD among the top 10 scoring poses as a metric, the success rate (RMSD ≤ 2.0 \AAfor the interface backbone atoms) increased from 21% with default Glide SP settings to 58% with the enhanced peptide sampling and scoring protocol in the case of redocking to the native protein structure. This approaches the accuracy of the recently developed Rosetta FlexPepDock method (63% success for these 19 peptides) while being over 100 times faster. Cross-docking was performed for a subset of cases where an unbound receptor structure was available, and in that case, 40% of peptides were docked successfully. We analyze the results and find that the optimized polypeptide protocol is most accurate for extended peptides of limited size and number of formal charges, defining a domain of applicability for this approach.
Although the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) has been studied intensely for decades, its precise functions have remained elusive. We recently hypothesized that the OFC contains a “cognitive map” of task space in which the current state of the task is represented, and this representation is especially critical for behavior when states are unobservable from sensory input. To test this idea, we apply pattern-classification techniques to neuroimaging data from humans performing a decision-making task with 16 states. We show that unobservable task states can be decoded from activity in OFC, and decoding accuracy is related to task performance and the occurrence of individual behavioral errors. Moreover, similarity between the neural representations of consecutive states correlates with behavioral accuracy in corresponding state transitions. These results support the idea that OFC represents a cognitive map of task space and establish the feasibility of decoding state representations in humans using non-invasive neuroimaging.
To many, the poster child for David Marr's famous three levels of scientific inquiry is reinforcement learning – a computational theory of reward optimization, which readily prescribes algorithmic solutions that evidence striking resemblance to signals found in the brain, suggesting a straightforward neural implementation. Here we review questions that remain open at each level of analysis, concluding that the path forward to their resolution calls for inspiration across levels, rather than a focus on mutual constraints.
Dopamine neurons signal reward prediction errors. This requires accurate reward predictions. It has been suggested that the ventral striatum provides these predictions. Here we tested this hypothesis by recording from putative dopamine neurons in the VTA of rats performing a task in which prediction errors were induced by shifting reward timing or number. In controls, the neurons exhibited error signals in response to both manipulations. However, dopamine neurons in rats with ipsilateral ventral striatal lesions exhibited errors only to changes in number and failed to respond to changes in timing of reward. These results, supported by computational modeling, indicate that predictions about the temporal specificity and the number of expected reward are dissociable and that dopaminergic prediction-error signals rely on the ventral striatum for the former but not the latter.
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