Paul Jaffe, Postdoc working with Professor Russell Poldrack, Department of Psychology, Stanford University
Title: A data-driven dynamical systems modeling framework for cognitive tasks
Abstract: Response time (RT) data collected from cognitive tasks are a cornerstone of psychology and neuroscience research, yet existing models of these data either make strong assumptions about the data generating process or are limited to modeling single trials. We introduce task-DyVA, a deep learning framework in which expressive dynamical systems are trained to reproduce sequences of RTs observed in data from individual human subjects. Models fitted to a large task-switching dataset captured subject-specific behavioral differences with high temporal precision, including task-switching costs. Through perturbation experiments and analyses of the models’ latent dynamics, we find support for a rational account of switch costs in terms of a stability-flexibility tradeoff. Thus, our framework can be used to discover interpretable cognitive theories that explain how the brain dynamically gives rise to behavior.