Several major innovations in artificial intelligence (AI) (e.g. convolutional neural networks,
TD learning, experience replay) are based on findings about the brain. However, in all of these
cases, the underlying finding about brain function took many years to first consolidate and many
more to transfer to AI. Moreover, all of these findings were made using invasive methods in
non-human species. For many cognitive functions that are uniquely human, such as natural language
processing, there is no suitable model organism and a mechanistic understanding is that much
In this talk, I will discuss two works that circumvent these limitations by establishing a
direct connection between the brain and AI systems with two main goals: 1) to enable transfer of
brain insight to AI and 2) to provide computational models that can be used to improve our
mechanistic understanding of cognitive functions in the brain. Lastly, I will discuss future
directions that build on these approaches to investigate the role of memory in meaning composition,
both in the brain and in AI systems. My hope is that this investigation will lead to methods that
can be applied to a wide range of AI domains, such as computer vision, multi-modal learning, and
other areas in which it is important to adapt to new data distributions, continually learn to
perform new tasks, and learn from few samples.
About the Speaker
Mariya Toneva is a last-year PhD candidate in a joint program between Machine Learning and
Neural Computation at Carnegie Mellon University, where she is advised by Tom Mitchell and Leila
Wehbe. Her primary research is on building computational models of meaning composition during
language processing in the brain that can both better predict neuroimaging recordings of people
reading naturalistic text and improve on natural language processing systems.
About the Series
The Lecture Series is organized every winter term and consist of talks with international
speakers. The speakers are experts from various fields and professions. The talks are aimed at
covering the whole spectrum of visual computing and at discussing the relevance of quantification.
This years lecture series will be held entirely online.
This is an online event only.
Registration: If you would like to attend, please email
Leonel Merino to