Poster Session E, Monday, March 25, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
An Indexing Theory for Working Memory based on Fast Hebbian Plasticity
Florian Fiebig1, Pawel Herman1, Anders Lansner1,2; 1Lansner Laboratory, Department of Computational Science and Technology, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 10044 Stockholm, Sweden, 2Department of Mathematics, Stockholm University, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden
Working memory (WM) is a key component of human memory and cognitive function. Computational models have been used to uncover the underlying neural mechanisms. However, these studies have mostly focused on the short-term memory aspects of WM and neglected the equally important role of interactions between short- and long-term memory (STM, LTM). Here, we concentrate on these interactions within the framework of our new computational model of WM, which accounts for three cortical patches in macaque brain, corresponding to networks in prefrontal cortex (PFC) together with parieto-temporal cortical areas. In particular, we propose a cortical indexing theory that explains how PFC could associate, maintain and update multi-modal LTM representations. Our simulation results demonstrate how simultaneous, brief multi-modal memory cues could build a temporary joint memory representation linked via an “index” in the prefrontal cortex by means of fast Hebbian synaptic plasticity. The latter can then activate spontaneously and thereby reactivate the associated long-term representations. Cueing one long-term memory item rapidly pattern-completes the associated un-cued item via prefrontal cortex. The STM network updates flexibly as new stimuli arrive thereby gradually over-writing older representations. In a wider context, this WM model suggests a novel explanation for “variable binding”, a long-standing and fundamental phenomenon in cognitive neuroscience, which is still poorly understood in terms of detailed neural mechanisms.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Working memory