Wed 11/29/2017
at 01:00 PM

Lecture by Richard Hahnloser (Zürich)

Richard Hahnloser
Institute of Neuroinformatics, Zürich

Songbirds' solution to an intractable motor learning problem

While acquiring motor skills, such as courtship songs and dances, animals must match their performance to a desired target. However, because both the structure and the temporal position of individual gestures are adjustable, the number of possible motor transformations increases exponentially with sequence length, and searching for the optimal transformation quickly becomes computationally intractable. We tested how zebra finches cope with the computational complexity of song learning, by prompting juveniles to modify their song to correct conflicting phonological and sequential mismatches in song syllables. Surprisingly, birds matched each syllable to the most acoustically similar sound in the target, regardless of its temporal position, resulting in sequence errors that were later corrected. Thus, birds prioritized efficient learning of syllable vocabulary, at the cost of inefficient syntax learning. This modular strategy amounts to a linear workaround of an intractable quadratic problem, and could perhaps be a generic solution in the evolution of motor learning mechanisms.
Wed 12/06/2017
at 01:00 PM

Lecture by Elisa d'Este (Göttingen)

Elisa d'Este
Department of NanoBiophotonics, Göttingen

Nanoscale organization of the subcortical cytoskeleton in the nervous system
Wed 01/17/2018
at 01:00 PM

Lecture by Klaus Conzelmann (München)

Klaus Conzelmann
Max-von-Pettenkofer Institute & Gene Center, LMU München
Wed 01/31/2018
at 01:00 PM

Lecture by Liset Menendez de la Prida (Madrid)

Liset Menendez de la Prida
Instituto Cajal, Madrid

Deep-superficial organization of hippocampal microcircuits in health
and disease