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Better Transfer Learning with Inferred Successor Maps
Tamas Madarasz · Tim Behrens

Thu Dec 12 10:30 AM -- 10:35 AM (PST) @ West Exhibition Hall C + B3

Humans and animals show remarkable flexibility in adjusting their behaviour when their goals, or rewards in the environment change. While such flexibility is a hallmark of intelligent behaviour, these multi-task scenarios remain an important challenge for machine learning algorithms and neurobiological models alike. Factored representations can enable flexible behaviour by abstracting away general aspects of a task from those prone to change, while nonparametric methods provide a principled way of using similarity to past experiences to guide current behaviour. Here we combine the successor representation (SR), that factors the value of actions into expected outcomes and corresponding rewards, with nonparametric inference and clustering of the space of rewards. We propose an algorithm that improves SR's transfer capabilities, while explaining important signatures of place cell representations in the hippocampus . Our method dynamically samples from a flexible number of distinct SR maps using inference about the current reward context, and outperforms competing algorithms in settings with both known and unsignalled rewards changes. It reproduces the "flickering" behaviour of hippocampal maps seen when rodents navigate to changing reward locations, and gives a quantitative account of trajectory-dependent hippocampal representations (so-called splitter cells). We thus provide a novel algorithmic approach for multi-task learning, as well as a common normative framework that links together these different characteristics of the brain's spatial representation.

Author Information

Tamas Madarasz (University of Oxford)
Tim Behrens (University of Oxford)

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