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Computer Science > Artificial Intelligence

Title: ORGaNICs: A Theory of Working Memory in Brains and Machines

Abstract: Working memory is a cognitive process that is responsible for temporarily holding and manipulating information. Most of the empirical neuroscience research on working memory has focused on measuring sustained activity in prefrontal cortex (PFC) and/or parietal cortex during simple delayed-response tasks, and most of the models of working memory have been based on neural integrators. But working memory means much more than just holding a piece of information online. We describe a new theory of working memory, based on a recurrent neural circuit that we call ORGaNICs (Oscillatory Recurrent GAted Neural Integrator Circuits). ORGaNICs are a variety of Long Short Term Memory units (LSTMs), imported from machine learning and artificial intelligence. ORGaNICs can be used to explain the complex dynamics of delay-period activity in prefrontal cortex (PFC) during a working memory task. The theory is analytically tractable so that we can characterize the dynamics, and the theory provides a means for reading out information from the dynamically varying responses at any point in time, in spite of the complex dynamics. ORGaNICs can be implemented with a biophysical (electrical circuit) model of pyramidal cells, combined with shunting inhibition via a thalamocortical loop. Although introduced as a computational theory of working memory, ORGaNICs are also applicable to models of sensory processing, motor preparation and motor control. ORGaNICs offer computational advantages compared to other varieties of LSTMs that are commonly used in AI applications. Consequently, ORGaNICs are a framework for canonical computation in brains and machines.
Subjects: Artificial Intelligence (cs.AI); Neurons and Cognition (q-bio.NC)
Cite as: arXiv:1803.06288 [cs.AI]
  (or arXiv:1803.06288v1 [cs.AI] for this version)

Submission history

From: David Heeger [view email]
[v1] Fri, 16 Mar 2018 16:04:09 GMT (3302kb)