Functional network reorganization in motor cortex can be explained by reward-modulated Hebbian learning
The control of neuroprosthetic devices from the activity of motor cortex neurons benefits from learning effects where the function of these neurons is adapted to the control task. It was recently shown that tuning properties of neurons in monkey motor cortex are adapted selectively in order to compensate for an erroneous interpretation of their activity. In particular, it was shown that the tuning curves of those neurons whose preferred directions had been misinterpreted changed more than those of other neurons. In this article, we show that the experimentally observed self-tuning properties of the system can be explained on the basis of a simple learning rule. This learning rule utilizes neuronal noise for exploration and performs Hebbian weight updates that are modulated by a global reward signal. In contrast to most previously proposed reward-modulated Hebbian learning rules, this rule does not require extraneous knowledge about what is noise and what is signal. The learning rule is able to optimize the performance of the model system within biologically realistic periods of time and under high noise levels. When the neuronal noise is fitted to experimental data, the model produces learning effects similar to those found in monkey experiments.