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Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Comput. Neurosci., 24 October 2011 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fncom.2011.00040

Short-term facilitation may stabilize parametric working memory trace

  • 1 Department of Mathematics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA
  • 2 Neurophysics and Physiology Laboratory, The Institute for Neurosciences and Cognition, Université René Descartes, Paris, France
  • 3 Interdisciplinary Center for Neural Computation, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel
  • 4 Department of Neurobiology, Weizmann Institute, Rehovot, Israel
  • 5 Center for Theoretical Neuroscience, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA

Networks with continuous set of attractors are considered to be a paradigmatic model for parametric working memory (WM), but require fine tuning of connections and are thus structurally unstable. Here we analyzed the network with ring attractor, where connections are not perfectly tuned and the activity state therefore drifts in the absence of the stabilizing stimulus. We derive an analytical expression for the drift dynamics and conclude that the network cannot function as WM for a period of several seconds, a typical delay time in monkey memory experiments. We propose that short-term synaptic facilitation in recurrent connections significantly improves the robustness of the model by slowing down the drift of activity bump. Extending the calculation of the drift velocity to network with synaptic facilitation, we conclude that facilitation can slow down the drift by a large factor, rendering the network suitable as a model of WM.

Keywords: parametric working memory, continuous attractors, synaptic facilitation, Ring model, bump attractor, working memory, inhomogeneous neural media, neural fields

Citation: Itskov V, Hansel D and Tsodyks M (2011) Short-term facilitation may stabilize parametric working memory trace. Front. Comput. Neurosci. 5:40. doi: 10.3389/fncom.2011.00040

Received: 22 January 2011; Paper pending published: 17 March 2011;
Accepted: 08 September 2011; Published online: 24 October 2011.

Edited by:

Stefano Fusi, Columbia University, USA

Reviewed by:

Albert Compte, Institut d ′Investigacions Biomèdiques August Pi i Sunyer, Spain

Copyright: © 2011 Itskov, Hansel and Tsodyks. This is an open-access article subject to a non-exclusive license between the authors and Frontiers Media SA, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and other Frontiers conditions are complied with.

*Correspondence: Vladimir Itskov, Department of Mathematics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 244 Avery Hall, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA. e-mail: vitskov2@math.unl.edu