Krichmar J L, 2009, "Attention and action selection in a robot controlled by principles of vertebrate neuromodulation" Perception 38 ECVP Abstract Supplement, page 47
Attention and action selection in a robot controlled by principles of vertebrate neuromodulation
J L Krichmar
Neuromodulatory systems alter neuronal responses such that an organism can respond quickly and accurately to environmental changes. We present a detailed neural model of the dopaminergic and serotonergic neuromodulatory systems to test the hypothesis that phasic neuromodulation can drive attention and select actions (Krichmar, 2008 Adaptive Behavior 16 388 - 399). The neural simulation, which controls a robot's behavior, consisted of a visuomotor area with neurons that responded preferentially to different colors and drove action areas, a dopaminergic neural area (VTA), a serotonergic neural area (Raphe), and behavior areas. Based on empirical and theoretical findings, neuromodulation amplified sensory synaptic projections relative to recurrent or associational projections in postsynaptic neurons in the simulated network. The robot, which had active vision and collision sensing, explored a room that had an interactive floor. Panels on the floor displayed different colors and could communicate the 'value' of a panel to the robot. Green panels had an arbitrary value of good, red panels had a value of bad, and all other colors (six in all) were neutral. The robot learned to associate green with orienting behavior, and red with avoidance behavior. Green stimuli caused a phasic response in the VTA neurons resulting in an amplification of the green visuomotor area, a dampening of distracter colors, and a strong increase in orienting activity. Red stimuli caused a phasic response in the Raphe neurons that amplified red visuomotor and avoidance behavior, while suppressing neural activity in other visuomotor, neuromodulatory, and behavior areas. An intact neuromodulatory system was necessary for correct behavioral responses and lesions of neuromodulatory responses significantly lowered the signal to noise ratio in the visuomotor area during behavioral responses. These experiments suggest a physiological mechanism of how neuromodulatory systems influence attention and decision-making.
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