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A19 – Causality and neural dynamics of context and generalization

Jonas Rose

Context is a critical variable in extinction learning. Yet its poorly understood what exactly constitutes a context and why extinction is so sensitive to it. By testing pigeons in a novel arena-setup we will establish if context is a physical or a learned stimulus property. We will further use optogenetic stimulation to probe the causality in the underlying neural network. Using modern, wireless, neurophysiology in crows we will also test if mechanisms of attention or of generalization can account for the difference in context-sensitivity between acquisition and extinction.

Guiding questions of A19:

  • Is context defined only by contingency and continuity or are some physical properties more likely to become a context? Can we further identify causality in the underlying neural network using optogenetic manipulation?
  • Is the avian hippocampus involved in context-dependency of extinction learning?
  • Is the difference in context-dependency between acquisition and extinction a difference in attention or in generalization?
  • Are individual differences in extinction-renewal driven by reinforcement history alone or are rules and strategies involved? Are such results stable across species?

Jonas Rose

Projektleiter A19

Ruhr-Universität Bochum

5 project-relevant publications

Donoso JR, Packheiser J, Pusch R, Lederer Z, Walther T, Güntürkün O, Cheng S (2020) Complex dynamics of choice during operant extinction and a “simple” associative learning account.

Gao M, Lengersdorf D, Stüttgen MC, Güntürkün O (2019a) Transient inactivation of the visual-associative nidopallium frontola-terale (NFL) impairs extinction learning and context encoding in pigeons. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 158: 50–59.

Gao M, Pusch R, Güntürkün O (2019b) Blocking NMDA-Receptors in the Pigeon’s Medial Striatum Impairs Extinction Acquisition and Induces a Motoric Disinhibition in an Appetitive Classical Conditioning Paradigm. Front Behav Neurosci. 13: 5545.

Rook N, Tuff J, Isparta S, Masseck O, Herlitze S, Güntürkün O, Pusch, R (2020) AAV1 is the optimal viral vector for optogenetic experiments in pigeons (Columba livia). Commun Biol (accepted).

Walther T, Diekmann N, Vijayabaskaran S, Donoso JR, Manahan-Vaughan D, Wiskott L, Cheng S (2020) Context-dependent extinction learning emerging from raw sensory inputs: A reinforcement learning approach.