A Model of Reaching that Integrates Reinforcement Learning and Population Encoding of Postures
When monkeys tackle novel complex behavioral tasks by trial-and-error they select actions from repertoires of sensorimotor primitives that allow them to search solutions in a space which is coarser than the space of fine movements. Neuroscientific findings suggested that upper-limb sensorimotor primitives might be encoded, in terms of the final goal-postures they pursue, in premotor cortex. A previous work by the authors reproduced these results in a model based on the idea that cortical pathways learn sensorimotor primitives while basal ganglia learn to assemble and trigger them to pursue complex reward-based goals. This paper extends that model in several directions: a) it uses a Kohonen network to create a neural map with population encoding of postural primitives; b) it proposes an actor-critic reinforcement learning algorithm capable of learning to select those primitives in a biologically plausible fashion (i.e., through a dynamic competition between postures); c) it proposes a procedure to pre-train the actor to select promising primitives when tackling novel reinforcement learning tasks. Some tests (obtained with a task used for studying monkeys engaged in learning reaching-action sequences) show that the model is computationally sound and capable of learning to select sensorimotor primitives from the postures’ continuous space on the basis of their population encoding.
KeywordsPremotor Cortex Adulthood Phase Posture Controller Dynamic Competition Accumulator Model
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