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Biological and Artificial Reinforcement Learning
Raymond Chua · Sara Zannone · Feryal Behbahani · Rui Ponte Costa · Claudia Clopath · Blake Richards · Doina Precup

Fri Dec 13 08:00 AM -- 06:00 PM (PST) @ West Ballroom C
Event URL: https://sites.google.com/view/biologicalandartificialrl/ »

Reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms learn through rewards and a process of trial-and-error. This approach was strongly inspired by the study of animal behaviour and has led to outstanding achievements in machine learning (e.g. in games, robotics, science). However, artificial agents still struggle with a number of difficulties, such as sample efficiency, learning in dynamic environments and over multiple timescales, generalizing and transferring knowledge. On the other end, biological agents excel at these tasks. The brain has evolved to adapt and learn in dynamic environments, while integrating information and learning on different timescales and for different duration. Animals and humans are able to extract information from the environment in efficient ways by directing their attention and actively choosing what to focus on. They can achieve complicated tasks by solving sub-problems and combining knowledge as well as representing the environment in efficient ways and plan their decisions off-line. Neuroscience and cognitive science research has largely focused on elucidating the workings of these mechanisms. Learning more about the neural and cognitive underpinnings of these functions could be key to developing more intelligent and autonomous agents. Similarly, having a computational and theoretical framework, together with a normative perspective to refer to, could and does contribute to elucidate the mechanisms used by animals and humans to perform these tasks. Building on the connection between biological and artificial reinforcement learning, our workshop will bring together leading and emergent researchers from Neuroscience, Psychology and Machine Learning to share: (i) how neural and cognitive mechanisms can provide insights to tackle challenges in RL research and (ii) how machine learning advances can help further our understanding of the brain and behaviour.

Author Information

Raymond Chua (McGill University / Mila)
Sara Zannone (ICL)
Feryal Behbahani (DeepMind)
Rui Ponte Costa (University of Bristol)
Claudia Clopath (Imperial College London)
Blake Richards (University of Toronto)
Doina Precup (McGill University / Mila / DeepMind Montreal)

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