By Sri Sarma (Johns Hopkins University)
Talk Abstract: A human’s ability to adapt and learn relies on reflecting on past performance. Such reflections form latent factors, represented as internal cognitive states, that induce variability of movement and behavior to improve performance. Internal states are critical for survival, yet their temporal dynamics and neural substrates are less understood. Here, we link internal states with motor performance and neural activity using state-space models and local field potentials captured from depth electrodes in over 100 brain regions. Ten human 8subjects performed a goal-directed center-out reaching task with perturbations applied to random trials, causing subjects to fail goals and reflect on their performance. Using computational methods, we identified two internal states, indicating that subjects kept track of past errors and perturbations, that predicted variability in reaction times and speed errors. These states granted access to latent information indicative of how subjects strategize learning from trial history, impacting their overall performance. We further found that large-scale brain networks differentially encoded these internal states. The dorsal attention network encoded past errors in frequencies above 100Hz, suggesting a role in modulating attention based on tracking recent performance in working memory. The default network encoded past perturbations in frequencies below 15Hz, suggesting a role in achieving robust performance in an uncertain environment. Moreover, these networks more strongly encoded internal states and were more functionally connected in higher performing subjects, whose learning strategy was to respond by countering with behavior that opposed accumulating error. Taken together, our findings suggest large-scale brain networks as a neural basis of strategy. These networks regulate movement variability, through internal states, to improve motor performance.
Speaker Bio: Sridevi Sarma received the B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Cornell University, Ithaca NY, in 1994; and an M.S.and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in, Cambridge MA, in 1997 and 2006, respectively. From 2000-2003 she took a leave of absence to start a data analytics company. From 2006–2009, she was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge.She is now an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Associate Director of the Institute for Computational Medicine, and Vice Dean for Graduate Affairs for the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore MD. Her research interests include modeling, estimation and control of neural systems using electrical stimulation with applications to epilepsy chronic pain and motor control. She is a recipient of the GE faculty for the future scholarship, a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow, a L’Oreal For Women in Science fellow, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Careers at the Scientific Interface Award, the Krishna Kumar New Investigator Award from the North American Neuromodulation Society, and a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) and the Whiting School of Engineering Robert B. Pond Excellence in Teaching Award.