Dopamine is a neurotransmitter with complex, not well-understood effects. In the basal ganglia dopamine modulates cortical input to the striatum. We study the functional role of dopamine with computational models ranging from `low-level’ cellular models, over neural network models to `high-level’ reinforcement learning models. The goal is to understand how dopamine contributions to learn selecting good action (e.g. via synaptic plasticity) as well as the actual execution of actions (e.g. by changing motivational aspects of behavior). We apply our research result to clinical scenarios including Parkinson’s disease to study how pathological dopamine levels affect behavior.
The Institut für Neuroinformatik (INI) is a central research unit of the Ruhr-Universität Bochum. We aim to understand the fundamental principles through which organisms generate behavior and cognition while linked to their environments through sensory systems and while acting in those environments through effector systems. Inspired by our insights into such natural cognitive systems, we seek new solutions to problems of information processing in artificial cognitive systems. We draw from a variety of disciplines that include experimental approaches from psychology and neurophysiology as well as theoretical approaches from physics, mathematics, electrical engineering and applied computer science, in particular machine learning, artificial intelligence, and computer vision.