Cognition Workshop 05/10/23: Sameera Shridhar

Title: The neural mechanisms underlying generalization

Sameera Shridhar, Doctoral Student, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago

Abstract: Unique experiences and memories are formed from events occurring in our daily lives. Our ability to apply knowledge from these experiences in new situations is termed as generalization. Research has implicated the roles of the hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and the connections between them in generalization through abstraction of specifics of a single experience. But the nature of this abstraction isn’t well understood. How does one apply complex behavioural patterns learnt in one situation or environment to another? Through my experiments, I aim to look at how this occurs using two groups of rats. One group was trained and required to perform the same trained pattern on a novel maze, while the other was required to learn and perform a new pattern on the new maze. We have currently quantified the behaviour of these groups and found that rats across as well as within groups had different performance levels, indicating that prior experience can influence learning in different ways. Future analyses will include looking at the strategies chosen during learning and examining the neural activity in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex.



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