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Blue Brain is delighted to announce that the next seminar in the series in Neural Computation, will be on ‘Patience, Confidence and Serotonin’. The seminar will be given by Prof. Kenji Doya, Neural Computation Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University, Japan.

Evaluation of delayed reward is an essential component of rational decision making. We hypothesized that the brain’s serotonergic system regulates the temporal discounting of future rewards. Human brain imaging experiments showed that different cortico-basalganglia loops are involved in reward prediction in different time scales and that they are differentially modulated by serotonin. Chemical recording and manipulation in rats showed that serotonin release is elevated when animals are engaged in delayed reward tasks and that suppression of dorsal raphe serotonin neurons increase reward waiting errors. Electrode recording of dorsal raphe neurons revealed that their firing increases during reward waiting period and drops just before the animal abandons waiting. Optogenetic activation of dorsal raphe serotonin neurons reduced waiting errors and extended waiting time in reward omission trials, but the effect was critically dependent on the probability and timing of reward delivery. These results suggest that the dorsal raphe serotonergic projection affects the patience for delayed rewards by modulating the confidence in the delivery of future reward.

KENJI DOYA took BS in 1984, MS in 1986, and Ph.D. in 1991 at U. Tokyo. He became a research associate at U. Tokyo in 1986, U. C. San Diego in 1991, and Salk Institute in 1993. He joined Advanced Telecommunications Research International (ATR) in 1994 and became the head of Computational Neurobiology Department, ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in 2003. In 2004, he was appointed as the Principal Investigator of Neural Computation Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) and started Okinawa Computational Neuroscience Course (OCNC) as the chief organizer. As OIST established itself as a graduate university in 2011, he became a Professor and served as the Vice Provost for Research till 2014. He serves as the Co-Editor in Chief of Neural Networks since 2008 and a board member of Japanese Neural Network Society (JNNS) and Japan Neuroscience Society (JNSS). He served as the Program Co-Chair of International Conference on Neural Information Processing (ICONIP) in 2007 and 2016, the Program Chair of JNSS meeting in 2010, and the General Chair of JNNS meeting in 2011 and 2018. He received Tsukahara Award and JSPS Award in 2007, MEXT Prize for Science and Technology in 2012, Donald O. Hebb Award in 2018, JNNS Academic Award in 2019, and the age-group 2nd place at Ironman Taiwan in 2019. He lead the MEXT project “Prediction and Decision Making” from 2011 to 2016 and currently leads a new MEXT project “Artificial Intelligence and Brain Science”. He is interested in understanding the functions of basal ganglia and the cortical circuit based on the theory of reinforcement learning and Bayesian inference.