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Literature review on memory in cognitive computing

It seems intuitive that our memory is provided in at least two modes, a rapid-store/rapid-recall, area, which is located in our frontal lobes. A second mode, which is used for long term memories is available with relatively slow-store / slow-recall.

The paper “Fleeting memories” by Daphne Bavelier et al. investigates the performance characteristics of our rapid recall memory. Investigations into RSVP (rapid serial visual presentation), repetition blindness, and scene perception are discussed in this paper. The results of various experiments into our ability to comprehend and remember pictures of objects and scenes, written words, and sentences when the visual stimuli are presented sequentially at rates of up to ten items per second. are examined. The paper highlights our remarkably developed abilities to understand and remember the contents of very briefly presented material. 

Our memories can be further subdivided into spatial and non-spatial memories. A spatial memory is one which involves the visualization in three dimensions, where a non-spatial memory is one which is more abstract, and can be used to hold less tangible information. In a paper “Cortical Representations of Personally Familiar Objects and Places: Functional Organization of the Human Posterior Cingulate Cortex“ by Motoaki Sugiura et al. The contributors investigate the role of the posterior cingulate cortex, and how this area of the brain distinguishes between spatial and non-spatial memories. In some MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) experiments, the distinction between the recognition of familiar objects as opposed to familiar places is clearly illustrated.
Another paper, “Sequential Memory: A Putative Neural and Synpatic Dynamical Mechanism“ by Prof. T. Rolls and Gustavo Deco, demonstrates, in a theoretically simulated neural network model a means by which sequences can be stored as memories with relative ease, without the need for successive repetition. In experiments, it was shown that a group of memories could be chained together in order to provide a strong recollection, as long as the sequence was logical. This perhaps points towards how certain people can recall large sequences of numbers by imagining a journey through a familiar environment.
A paper named “Separation of the Systems for Colour and Spatial Manipulation in Working Memory Revealed by a Dual-task Procedure” demonstrates how memories containing both spatial and colour information can be manipulated in our minds in parallel. But, through an experiment when the subject was distracted by performing a secondary task that required much of the subject’s attention, the manipulation of the memory was adversely affected, however, the subject could still maintain the memory of the object in their mind.

In a paper named “Prioritization of information in biological memory” by Christine Liu et al. The author examines the methods our brains use to provide prioritization of recall of everyday events. High priority memory provides quick access to important information, slower access to less important information, and we simply forget what unimportant details, such as what you had to eat for lunch two months ago. In a digital sense, if we were to store the Internet on a single computer, we couldn’t fit it all there, but we would start with the most useful and informative websites, and leave out websites such as “What I think of my neighbours cat” by Joe Nobody in Alabama

This idea is somewhat expanded in a paper named “Associative memories” by Juric Olsen et al. Who examines, by way of neural network models how memories can be enforced by groups of related memories. The author cites how the human brain has evolved from the hunter gatherer days, when it was important to remember and distinguish between poisonous berries, and fruit. In those days there would be little need to remember a set of thirteen digit numbers in order to speak to family members. Thus, our image generalization and storage mechanism is highly evolved, and, although it is simple for our brains to associate a symbolic representation to one of these stored generalised images, our brains find it very difficult to prioritize symbolic information which is not associated with an image, sound, or smell His experimentation with spiked neural networks supported his hypothesis.

In the paper “Conversations with Neil’s brain” by William H Calvin, the author pays special attention to human “cache” memory. Human cache memory is where rapid-access information is stored temporarily. In this memory, One can remember a phone number long enough to dial it, but not if you are distracted, by another activity, such as talking or writing. This cache memory is investigated in “Conversations with Neil’s brain”, where a patient with a damaged temporal lobe, retained the use of his cache memory, and could recall long-term memories but could no longer store new memories.

“Information generalization within finite-bounded neural space” is a paper by Evjen Rammer. The topic of information generalization is explored within selected clinical trials and neural network models. The paper, and related experiments show how our brains will generalize information, in order to save neuron-space. For instance, when you think of a horse, you would have a general image in your head, complete with head, tail, four legs etc. One can imagine the horse with or without a saddle, or in a variety of colours, but these are optional attributes. This is in stark comparison to how a computer would store images of horses, computers would have an index of a Grey horse, brown horse, Shetland pony etc., where a human would only have one image, but it would be general and accurate enough so that it is possible to instantly recognise a horse when seen.


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