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Modelling complex Hebbian reverberations with sets of spiking oscillators

Authors Helge Malmgren
Niklas Klasson
Published in The 21th annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, Beijing 13–16 June 2017
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Language en
Keywords Short-term memory, Hebb, reverberations, oscillators
Subject categories Cognitive science, Neuroscience


In 1949, Donald Hebb suggested that sensory information can be held in the form of reverberating neural activity before being coded as synaptic modifications. The idea has won widespread acceptance, but one central question remains: by what mechanism can an incoming sensory sequence force the output of a neuronal assembly to enter a closed trajectory that mimics the sequence? We here offer a radically new answer. Our model assumes the existence of a large set of neural oscillators, having a wide spectrum of frequencies, that interact with the input through a resonant layer. In the learning phase the activity in the resonant layer mirrors input. At each moment, oscillators that are close to firing threshold are set either to be silent or to fire depending on the present input. This entrainment gives rise to a frequency-phase transform, coded as the current activity in the set of oscillators, of the input sequence. In the retrieval phase, the input signal is shut off from access to the resonant layer. This layer now mirrors the activity of the oscillators, or of a chosen subset of oscillators. If, in the simple discrete-time case, only oscillators with a period of N are allowed to influence the resonant layer, the input during the last N moments will be replayed in this layer during the following N moments. The choice of oscillator period may correspond to a conscious decision to recall the immediately past N moments. We show results from two simulations of the proposed mechanism.

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