Theoretical Issues in Working Memory

July 19 or 20, 2000
Brugge, Belgium

The term "working memory" refers to the active storage processes that provide information on-line to be used in real time for execution of willful actions. Physiologically the cellular analogue of this mental phenomenon is the sustained firing found in higher processing cortical areas during delayed response tasks. For example neurons in the prefrontal cortex have been found to fire consistently during the delay period, when the sensory cue is no longer there and animal is waiting for the response cue. This firing is dependent on the characteristics of the remembered stimulus -- such as spatial location, frequency, or item identity. A number of modelling efforts have focused on this phenomenon, proposing different cellular, synaptic and network mechanisms for the tuning, initiation, maintenance and extinction of the sustained activity. Meanwhile ongoing experimental efforts have brought new data to light. The purpose of this workshop is to survey the modelling approaches, examine the available data and identify open research problems in the area.

The workshop will be organised into a mini-simposium with short presentations followed by a more informal round-table discussion.

Preliminary Program:

  1. Introduction and Overview of data:
    • Nicolas Brunel and Boris Gutkin

  2. Presentations by:
    • Carson Chow
    • Paolo Del Giudice
    • Jean-Marc Fellous
    • Stefano Fusi
    • Anders Larsner
    • Alfonso Renart
    • Xiao Jing Wang
    • more to be announced ...

  3. Some topics for open discussion:
    • Temporal structure of activity in the delay period
    • Anatomical segregation of working memory for different modalities
    • Mechanisms for working memory of a continuous variable
    • Neuromodulation of working memory
    • Single cell versus network mechanisms
    • Learning and recall
    • Holding more than one item in working memory
    • Using working memory to solve a task

Organized by Nicolas Brunel and Boris Gutkin

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Last modified 24.5.00 Maneesh Sahani.