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In Biological cybernetics

Despite the recent advancements and popularity of deep learning that has resulted from the advent of numerous industrial applications, artificial neural networks (ANNs) still lack crucial features from their biological counterparts that could improve their performance and their potential to advance our understanding of how the brain works. One avenue that has been proposed to change this is to strengthen the interaction between artificial intelligence (AI) research and neuroscience. Since their historical beginnings, ANNs and AI, in general, have developed in close alignment with both neuroscience and psychology. In addition to deep learning, reinforcement learning (RL) is another approach that is strongly linked to AI and neuroscience to understand how learning is implemented in the brain. In a recently published article, Botvinick et al. (Neuron, 107:603-616, 2020) explain why deep reinforcement learning (DRL) is important for neuroscience as a framework to study learning, representations and decision making. Here, I summarise Botvinick et al.'s main arguments and frame them in the context of the study of learning, memory and spatial navigation. I believe that applying this approach to study spatial navigation can provide useful insights for the understanding of how the brain builds, processes and stores representations of the outside world to extract knowledge.

Bermudez-Contreras Edgar