E45: How Working Memory Works

E45: How Working Memory Works

Unsupervised Thinking

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Working memory is the ability to keep something in mind several seconds after it's gone. Neurons don't tend to keep firing when their input is removed, so how does the brain hold on to information when it's out of sight? Scientists have been probing this question for decades. On this episode, we talk about how working memory is studied and the traditional view of how it works, which includes elevated persistent firing rates in neurons in the prefrontal cortex. The traditional view, however, is being challenged in many ways at the moment. As evidence of that we read a "dueling" paper on the topic, which argues for a view that incorporates bursts of firing, oscillations, and synaptic changes. In addition to covering the experimental evidence for different views, we also talk about the many computational models of working memory that have been developed over the years. Throughout we talk about energy efficiency, the difference between maintenance and manipulation, and the effects of putting scientific disagreements in writing. We also admit to not reading *any* primary sources.
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Working memory is the ability to keep something in mind several seconds after it's gone. Neurons don't tend to keep firing when their input is removed, so how does the brain hold on to information when it's out of sight? Scientists have been probing this question for decades. On this episode, we talk about how working memory is studied and the traditional view of how it works, which includes elevated persistent firing rates in neurons in the prefrontal cortex. The traditional view, however, is being challenged in many ways at the moment. As evidence of that we read a "dueling" paper on the topic, which argues for a view that incorporates bursts of firing, oscillations, and synaptic changes. In addition to covering the experimental evidence for different views, we also talk about the many computational models of working memory that have been developed over the years. Throughout we talk about energy efficiency, the difference between maintenance and manipulation, and the effects of putting scientific disagreements in writing. We also admit to not reading *any* primary sources.
...Read More