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Selective attention in rat visual category learning

Broschard, MB; Kim, J; Love, BC; Wasserman, EA; Freeman, JH; (2019) Selective attention in rat visual category learning. Learning & Memory , 26 pp. 84-92. 10.1101/lm.048942.118. Green open access

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Abstract

A prominent theory of category learning, COVIS, posits that new categories are learned with either a declarative or procedural system, depending on the task. The declarative system uses the prefrontal cortex (PFC) to learn rule-based (RB) category tasks in which there is one relevant sensory dimension that can be used to establish a rule for solving the task, whereas the procedural system uses corticostriatal circuits for information integration (II) tasks in which there are multiple relevant dimensions, precluding use of explicit rules. Previous studies have found faster learning of RB versus II tasks in humans and monkeys but not in pigeons. The absence of a learning rate difference in pigeons has been attributed to their lacking a PFC. A major gap in this comparative analysis, however, is the lack of data from a nonprimate mammalian species, such as rats, that have a PFC but a less differentiated PFC than primates. Here, we investigated RB and II category learning in rats. Similar to pigeons, RB and II tasks were learned at the same rate. After reaching a learning criterion, wider distributions of stimuli were presented to examine generalization. A second experiment found equivalent RB and II learning with wider category distributions. Computational modeling revealed that rats extract and selectively attend to category-relevant information but do not consistently use rules to solve the RB task. These findings suggest rats are on a continuum of PFC function between birds and primates, with selective attention but limited ability to utilize rules relative to primates.

Type: Article
Title: Selective attention in rat visual category learning
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1101/lm.048942.118
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1101/lm.048942.118
Language: English
Additional information: This article, published in Learning & Memory, is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution 4.0 International), as described at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10069424
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