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Impact of spatiotemporally correlated images on the structure of memory

Bernacchia, Alberto, Amit, Daniel J.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2007 v.104 no.9 pp. 3544-3549
evolution, memory, prediction
How does experience modify what we store in long-term memory? Is it an effect of unattended experience or does it require supervision? What role is played by temporal correlations in the input stream? We present a plastic recurrent network in which memory of faces is initially embedded and then, in the absence of supervision, the presentation of temporally correlated faces drastically changes long-term memory. We model and interpret the results of recent experiments and provide predictions for future testing. The stimuli are frames of a morphing film, interpolating between two memorized faces: If the temporal order of presentation of the frame stimuli is random, then the structure of memory is basically unaffected by synaptic plasticity (memory preservation). If the temporal order is sequential, then all image frames are classified as the same memory (memory collapse). The empirical findings are reproduced in the simulated dynamics of the network, in which the evolution of neural activity is conditioned by the associated synaptic plasticity (learning). The results are captured by theoretical analysis, which leads to predictions concerning the critical parameters of the stimuli; a third phase is identified in which memory is erased (forgetting).