Computational validity: using computation to translate behaviours across species

Redish, A David, Kepecs, Adam, Anderson, Lisa M, Calvin, Olivia L, Grissom, Nicola M, Haynos, Ann F, Heilbronner, Sarah R, Herman, Alexander B, Jacob, Suma, Ma, Sisi, Vilares, Iris, Vinogradov, Sophia, Walters, Cody J, Widge, Alik S, Zick, Jennifer L, Zilverstand, Anna (February 2022) Computational validity: using computation to translate behaviours across species. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 377 (1844). p. 20200525. ISSN 0962-8436

DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2020.0525


We propose a new conceptual framework (computational validity) for translation across species and populations based on the computational similarity between the information processing underlying parallel tasks. Translating between species depends not on the superficial similarity of the tasks presented, but rather on the computational similarity of the strategies and mechanisms that underlie those behaviours. Computational validity goes beyond construct validity by directly addressing questions of information processing. Computational validity interacts with circuit validity as computation depends on circuits, but similar computations could be accomplished by different circuits. Because different individuals may use different computations to accomplish a given task, computational validity suggests that behaviour should be understood through the subject's point of view; thus, behaviour should be characterized on an individual level rather than a task level. Tasks can constrain the computational algorithms available to a subject and the observed subtleties of that behaviour can provide information about the computations used by each individual. Computational validity has especially high relevance for the study of psychiatric disorders, given the new views of psychiatry as identifying and mediating information processing dysfunctions that may show high inter-individual variability, as well as for animal models investigating aspects of human psychiatric disorders. This article is part of the theme issue 'Systems neuroscience through the lens of evolutionary theory'.

Item Type: Paper
Subjects: bioinformatics
bioinformatics > computational biology > algorithms
organism description > animal behavior
bioinformatics > computational biology
neurobiology > neuroscience
CSHL Authors:
Communities: CSHL labs > Kepecs lab
SWORD Depositor: CSHL Elements
Depositing User: CSHL Elements
Date: 14 February 2022
Date Deposited: 30 Dec 2021 16:36
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2024 14:43
PMCID: PMC8710889

Actions (login required)

Administrator's edit/view item Administrator's edit/view item
CSHL HomeAbout CSHLResearchEducationNews & FeaturesCampus & Public EventsCareersGiving