Flexibility of working memory from random connections

May 16, 2019

A new article in Neuron from Princeton University neuroscientists Flora Bouchacourt and Tim Buschman presents a new model of working memory.

Working memory is your ability to hold things 'in mind.' It acts as a workspace in which information can be held, manipulated, and then used to guide behavior. In this way, it plays a critical role in cognition, decoupling behavior from the immediate sensory world. One of the remarkable things about working memory is its flexibility -- you can hold anything in mind.

How this flexibility is achieved has not been understood. In their new manuscript, Bouchacourt and Buschman present a new model of working memory that captures this flexibility.

The model combines a high-dimensional random network with structured sensory networks to flexibly maintain any input. The untuned nature of the connections allows the network to maintain any arbitrary input.

However, this flexibility comes at a cost: the random connections overlap, leading to interference between representations and limiting the memory capacity of the network. This matches the limited capacity of working memory in humans and suggests there is a tradeoff between flexibility and capacity in working memory.

In addition, the model captures several other behavioral and neurophysiological characteristics of working memory.

This work provides new insight into a core cognitive function in humans. Ongoing work hopes to understand how these mechanisms may be disrupted in neuropsychiatric diseases that disrupt working memory.
-end-


Princeton University

Related Working Memory Articles from Brightsurf:

Musical training can improve attention and working memory in children - study
Musically trained children perform better at attention and memory recall and have greater activation in brain regions related to attention control and auditory encoding.

A revised map of where working memory resides in the brain
Findings from genetically diverse mice challenge long-held assumptions about how the brain is able to briefly hold onto important information.

Playing video games as a child can improve working memory years later
UOC research reveals cognitive changes can be found even years after people stop playing

Visual working memory is hierarchically structured
Researchers from HSE University and the University of California San Diego, Igor Utochkin and Timothy Brady, have found new evidence of hierarchical encoding of images in visual working memory.

Couldn't socially distance? Blame your working memory
Whether you decided to engage in social distancing in the early stages of COVID-19 depended on how much information your working memory could hold.

Previously claimed memory boosting font 'Sans Forgetica' does not actually boost memory
It was previously claimed that the font Sans Forgetica could enhance people's memory for information, however researchers from the University of Warwick and the University of Waikato, New Zealand, have found after carrying out numerous experiments that the font does not enhance memory.

They remember: Communities of microbes found to have working memory
Biologists studying communities of bacteria have discovered that these so-called simple organisms feature a robust capacity for memory.

Researchers find key to keep working memory working
Working memory, the ability to hold a thought in mind even through distraction, is the foundation of abstract reasoning and a defining characteristic of the human brain.

Slower growth in working memory linked to teen driving crashes
Research into why adolescent drivers are involved in motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of injury and death among 16- to 19-year-olds in the United States, has often focused on driving experience and skills.

Are differences in working memory development associated with crashes involving young drivers?
This study of 84 young drivers looked at the association between motor vehicle crashes and differences in the development of working memory, which is critical to awareness of hazards while driving.

Read More: Working Memory News and Working Memory Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.