Date: Wednesday 02 March 2011
Time: 12:00 - 1:00PM
Speaker: Dr Allen Cheung, Research Fellow, Thinking Systems Queensland Brain Institute, and School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering The University of Queensland

In biology, navigation is an umbrella term which encompasses a wide range of sensorimotor and information processing tasks, many of which are still poorly defined or understood. The first part of this talk focuses on the development of a theoretical understanding of neurocomputational principles common to all navigating animals. Using the ubiquitous navigation strategy of path integration, it is shown that the type of sensory information used can drastically affect an animal’s navigation range – providing strong theoretical motivation for the evolution of head direction cells which bind allocentric cue information. Furthermore, the presence of neuronal noise places strong selective pressure on the type of neural representation of space – possibly explaining the existence of place cells. The second part of this talk looks at navigation in confined spaces such as experimental arenas. In such environments, where visual information may be ambiguous, it turns out that the boundary provides sufficient spatial information for localization with or without vision, even in the presence of a drifting head direction system and noisy estimate of speed. From a computational perspective, the only proviso seems to be the presence of a distributed representation of pose which can assimilate boundary contact information. Possible neural substrates are briefly discussed. There are implications for interpreting experimental data and designing future experiments.

Level 7 Auditorium, QBI Building (#79), St.Lucia Campus
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