Game theory seminar: Computational Design Principles of Cognition (Yuval Hart)

Sun, 19/01/202014:00-15:00
Elath Hall, 2nd floor, Feldman Building
Driven by recent technological advancements, behavior and brain activity can now be measured at an unprecedented resolution and scale. This “big-data” revolution is akin to a similar revolution in biology. In biology, the wealth of data allowed systems-biologists to uncover the underlying design principles that are shared among biological systems. In my studies, I apply design principles from systems-biology to cognitive phenomena. In my talk I will demonstrate this approach in regard to creative search. Using a novel paradigm, I discovered that people’s search exhibits exploration and exploitation durations that were highly correlated along a line between quick-to-discover/quick-to-drop and slow-to-discover/slow-to-drop strategies. To explain this behavior, I focused on the property of scale invariance, which allows sensory systems to adapt to environmental signals spanning orders of magnitude. For example, bacteria search for nutrients, by responding to relative changes in nutrient concentration rather than absolute levels, via a sensory mechanism termed fold change detection (FCD). Scale invariance is prevalent in cognition, yet the specific mechanisms are mostly unknown. I found that an FCD model best describes creative search dynamics and further predicts robustness to variations in meaning perception, in agreement with behavioral data. These findings suggest FCD as a specific mechanism for scale invariant search, connecting sensory processes of cells and cognitive processes in humans. I will end with a broader perspective and outline the benefits of the search for computational design principles of cognition