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Continuous attractor models of working-memory store continuous-valued information in continuous state-spaces, but are sensitive to noise processes that degrade memory retention. Short-term synaptic plasticity of recurrent synapses has previously been shown to affect continuous attractor systems: short-term facilitation can stabilize memory retention, while short-term depression possibly increases continuous attractor volatility. Here, we present a comprehensive description of the combined effect of both short-term facilitation and depression on noise-induced memory degradation in one-dimensional continuous attractor models. Our theoretical description, applicable to rate models as well as spiking networks close to a stationary state, accurately describes the slow dynamics of stored memory positions as a combination of two processes: (i) diffusion due to variability caused by spikes; and (ii) drift due to random connectivity and neuronal heterogeneity. We find that facilitation decreases both diffusion and directed drifts, while short-term depression tends to increase both. Using mutual information, we evaluate the combined impact of short-term facilitation and depression on the ability of networks to retain stable working memory. Finally, our theory predicts the sensitivity of continuous working memory to distractor inputs and provides conditions for stability of memory.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: PLoS computational biology
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