IV Dynamics of Cognition

Chapter 17 Memory and Attractor Dynamics

Humans remember important events in their lives. You might be able to recall every detail of your first exam at college; or of your first public speech; or of your first day in kindergarten; or the first time you went to a new school after your family moved to a new city. Human memory works with associations. If you hear the voice of an old friend on the phone, you may spontaneously recall stories that you had not thought of for years. If you are hungry and see a picture of a banana, you might vividly recall the taste and smell of a banana … and thereby realize that you are indeed hungry.

In this chapter, we present models of neural networks that describe the recall of previously stored items from memory. In Section 17.1 we start with a few examples of associative recall so as to prepare the stage for the modeling work later on. In Section 17.2 we introduce an abstract network model of memory recall, known as the Hopfield model. We take this network as a starting point and add, in subsequent sections, some biological realism to the model.