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Prediction and generalisation over directed actions by grid cells

Changmin Yu · Timothy Behrens · Neil Burgess

Keywords: [ normative models ] [ grid cells ] [ computational neuroscience ]


Knowing how the effects of directed actions generalise to new situations (e.g. moving North, South, East and West, or turning left, right, etc.) is key to rapid generalisation across new situations. Markovian tasks can be characterised by a state space and a transition matrix and recent work has proposed that neural grid codes provide an efficient representation of the state space, as eigenvectors of a transition matrix reflecting diffusion across states, that allows efficient prediction of future state distributions. Here we extend the eigenbasis prediction model, utilising tools from Fourier analysis, to prediction over arbitrary translation-invariant directed transition structures (i.e. displacement and diffusion), showing that a single set of eigenvectors can support predictions over arbitrary directed actions via action-specific eigenvalues. We show how to define a "sense of direction" to combine actions to reach a target state (ignoring task-specific deviations from translation-invariance), and demonstrate that adding the Fourier representations to a deep Q network aids policy learning in continuous control tasks. We show the equivalence between the generalised prediction framework and traditional models of grid cell firing driven by self-motion to perform path integration, either using oscillatory interference (via Fourier components as velocity-controlled oscillators) or continuous attractor networks (via analysis of the update dynamics). We thus provide a unifying framework for the role of the grid system in predictive planning, sense of direction and path integration: supporting generalisable inference over directed actions across different tasks.

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