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A reward-modulated hebbian learning rule can explain experimentally observed network reorganization in a brain control task.

Journal of Neuroscience 30(25):8400 (2010) PMID 20573887 PMCID PMC2917246

It has recently been shown in a brain-computer interface experiment that motor cortical neurons change their tuning properties selectively to compensate for errors induced by displaced decoding parameters. In particular, it was shown that the three-dimensional tuning curves of neurons whose decoding parameters were reassigned changed more than those of neurons whose decoding parameters had not been reassigned. In this article, we propose a simple learning rule that can reproduce this effect. Our learning rule uses Hebbian weight updates driven by a global reward signal and neuronal noise. In contrast to most previously proposed learning rules, this approach does not require extrinsic information to separate noise from signal. The learning rule is able to optimize the performance of a model system within biologically realistic periods of time under high noise levels. Furthermore, when the model parameters are matched to data recorded during the brain-computer interface learning experiments described above, the model produces learning effects strikingly similar to those found in the experiments.

DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4284-09.2010