Image from Eichenbaum (2000)

Memory in action: The role(s) of the hippocampus in decisions for reward

Cosyne workshops, Snowbird, Utah. March 10th, 2015
Organizers: Aaron M. Bornstein and G. Elliott Wimmer


The hippocampus has long been understood to play a critical role in flexible relational learning, episodic memory, and navigation. More recently, a growing body of work implicates the hippocampus in value-based decision making. However, a dichotomy exists between research performed in different organisms and from distinct theoretical traditions. For instance, results in rodent models support an active role for the hippocampus in evaluating potential next-step actions and outcomes. Meanwhile, human research has mainly emphasized the role of the hippocampus in forming representations that may then support later decisions. Other divisions concern the nature of spatial versus more general relational processing, various algorithms for active sampling in support of decisions, and whether the hippocampus plays a part in tasks that require short-term memory or well-learned outcomes. These divergences are in part due to different experimental methods, but they also reveal fundamental gaps in the theory. Computational treatments exist that offer normative justifications for each of these roles, but to date few efforts have been made to unify these observations.  

This workshop brings together for the first time many of the researchers behind the primary work to discuss the emerging computational frameworks that describe the role - or roles - of the hippocampus in decision making. Participants will work to understand what might be the core computations performed by the hippocampus to guide reward-based decision making and goal-directed behavior.


Helen Barron
University College London
Building new neural representations using the hippocampus.
Nathaniel Daw
New York University
Separable effects of individual episodes in reinforcement learning: models, data, and aspirations.
David Foster
The Johns Hopkins University
Matthijs van der Meer
Dartmouth University
Motivational state and the content of hippocampal sequences.
Kevin Miller
Princeton University
A causal role for hippocampus in model-based planning in the rat.
Genela Morris
Haifa University
The role of dopamine in setting the coordinates of the cognitive map.
Daphna Shohamy
Columbia University
How relational memory mechanisms in the hippocampus support decisions.
Kimberly Stachenfeld
Princeton University
Design principles of the hippocampal cognitive map.
Jane Wang
Northwestern University
Hippocampal-cortical network dynamics of information-seeking decisions during exploratory learning.
Jai Yu
University of California, San Francisco
Anterior cingulate cortex-hippocampal interactions during goal-driven behavior.