A neural model of schemas and memory encoding

  • Tiffany HwuEmail author
  • Jeffrey L. Krichmar
Original Article


The ability to rapidly assimilate new information is essential for survival in a dynamic environment. This requires experiences to be encoded alongside the contextual schemas in which they occur. Tse et al. (Science 316(5821):76–82, 2007) showed that new information matching a preexisting schema is learned rapidly. To better understand the neurobiological mechanisms for creating and maintaining schemas, we constructed a biologically plausible neural network to learn context in a spatial memory task. Our model suggests that this occurs through two processing streams of indexing and representation, in which the medial prefrontal cortex and hippocampus work together to index cortical activity. Additionally, our study shows how neuromodulation contributes to rapid encoding within consistent schemas. The level of abstraction of our model further provides a basis for creating context-dependent memories while preventing catastrophic forgetting in artificial neural networks.


Memory consolidation Schemas Catastrophic forgetting Spatial navigation 



We thank the participants of the 2017 Telluride Neuromorphic Cognition Workshop, especially Xinyun Zou, Brent Komer, Georgios Detorakis, and Scott Koziol, who worked on a preliminary project leading to the creation of this model.

Supplementary material

422_2019_808_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (126 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 125 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cognitive SciencesUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA
  2. 2.HRL Laboratories, LLCMalibuUSA
  3. 3.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

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