How does the brain abstract knowledge from the world?
Our research in this area focuses on how the brain uses inferences to combine incoming information with memories and beliefs to generate internal models of the world. We are exploring how the brain dynamically updates these internal models of the world with external and internal information.
Research at SWC also focuses on understanding the underpinnings of intelligent behaviour by studying how the brain uses what it already knows to generalise to new scenarios that it has never previously encountered.
How does the brain use the knowledge it abstracts from the world to make decisions?
Our research in this area covers both innate and learned decisions. Neuroscientists at SWC are studying how the brain computes decisions by using working memory, where information is stored for short periods, to integrate incoming information with prior knowledge.
We are also disentangling how the brain chooses the most favourable decision in a given moment by exploring the impact of context, including brain state, risk and uncertainty, and social environment. To help us understand how these flexible decisions are made in real life, we are studying natural behaviours such as foraging.
How does the brain learn from experience, make predictions about how to behave, and remember what it has learned?
Research at SWC focuses on understanding different types of learning including statistical learning, where the brain finds and exploits meaningful patterns in the environment, and reinforcement learning, where the brain makes predictions based on previous outcomes.
Our research also focuses on the theory of deep learning, a class of artificial neural network models that take inspiration from the brain. Neuroscientists at SWC are working closely with GCNU, to develop better learning algorithms, a fundamental goal in machine learning that has proven essential in real world applications.
How does the brain set goals and transform information about the world into actions to achieve its plans?
Our research in this area focuses on understanding purposeful behaviour. Neuroscientists at SWC are studying the neural circuits regulating motivation in pursuit of a goal, selection and sequencing of actions, and execution with the appropriate vigour to generate a coordinated behavioural response.
Spatial navigation is a key focus area and we are exploring the role of memory, including both long-term memories for locations and short-term memories for ecologically significant information.