Unifying network model links recency and central tendency biases in working memory

ELIFE(2024)

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Abstract
The central tendency bias, or contraction bias, is a phenomenon where the judgment of the magnitude of items held in working memory appears to be biased toward the average of past observations. It is assumed to be an optimal strategy by the brain and commonly thought of as an expression of the brain's ability to learn the statistical structure of sensory input. On the other hand, recency biases such as serial dependence are also commonly observed and are thought to reflect the content of working memory. Recent results from an auditory delayed comparison task in rats suggest that both biases may be more related than previously thought: when the posterior parietal cortex (PPC) was silenced, both short-term and contraction biases were reduced. By proposing a model of the circuit that may be involved in generating the behavior, we show that a volatile working memory content susceptible to shifting to the past sensory experience - producing short-term sensory history biases - naturally leads to contraction bias. The errors, occurring at the level of individual trials, are sampled from the full distribution of the stimuli and are not due to a gradual shift of the memory toward the sensory distribution's mean. Our results are consistent with a broad set of behavioral findings and provide predictions of performance across different stimulus distributions and timings, delay intervals, as well as neuronal dynamics in putative working memory areas. Finally, we validate our model by performing a set of human psychophysics experiments of an auditory parametric working memory task.
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Key words
working memory,serial bias,neural network,rat,posterior parietal cortex,contraction bias,Human
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