Behavioral flexibility and its neural correlates


Caroline Haimerl | Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Portugal
Laura Bella Naumann | Institute of Science and Technology,  Austria
Cristina Savin | New York University, USA


Humans and other animals can adapt their behavior to complex and ever-changing environments. They can switch tasks that require different sensory information and quickly learn new tasks without affecting the existing behavioral repertoire. The neural mechanisms that enable this behavioral flexibility are still unclear. Numerous neurons and their connections work in concert to process sensory information and produce appropriate behavioral responses.

Jointly reorganizing them for a new task or context seems daunting and inefficient. Thus, other fast and transient mechanisms must exist that temporarily modulate the way information is processed to support the task at hand. The proposed workshop brings together experimental and theoretical researchers studying flexible and adaptive behavior across different sensory modalities and species.

The goal is to review the most up to date empirical evidence and theoretical ideas of underlying neural mechanisms, identify common themes across approaches and species and thus determine promising future directions for the study of flexible behavior at the neural level.

Schedule (CEST)

Tuesday, Sept 26


Introduction to the theme: Flexible behaviour and its neural correlates
Cristina Savin, Caroline Haimerl, Laura Bella Naumann


Liora Las | Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel
Neuronal dynamics in the bat hippocampus during social behaviors


Charline Tessereau | Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Germany 
Reinforcement learning approaches to hippocampus-dependent flexible spatial navigation


NaYoung So | Columbia University, USA
Decision formation in parietal cortex transcends a fixed frame of reference


30 min coffee break


Marlene Cohen | University of Chicago, USA
Feature interference: A neuronal population hypothesis about limits on cognition


Roxana Zeraati | University of Tübingen, Germany
Flexible control of neural and behavioral dynamics during selective attention


Asma Motiwala | Carnegie Mellon University, USA
Causal probes of motor cortical dynamics through volitional control of neural activity


Wrap-up day 1


End of first day

Wednesday, Sept 27


Interim summary and introduction to day 2
Cristina Savin, Caroline Haimerl, Laura Bella Naumann


Caroline Haimerl | Champalimaud Centre, Portugal
Fine-tuning hierarchical circuits for adaptive behavior through learned stochastic co-modulation


Laureline Logiaco | Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Neural network mechanisms of (some forms of) motor control flexibility


30 min coffee break


João Barbosa | Ecole Normale Supérieure, France
Early selection of task-relevant features through population gating


Mehrdad Jazayeri | Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Flexible vector production via mental navigation in the entorhinal cortex


Panel discussion