Topological Schemas of Memory Spaces
Babichev, Andrey; Dabaghian, Yuri A.
Hippocampal cognitive map-a neuronal representation of the spatial environment-is widely discussed in the computational neuroscience literature for decades. However, more recent studies point out that hippocampus plays a major role in producing yet another cognitive framework-the memory space-that incorporates not only spatial, but also non-spatial memories. Unlike the cognitive maps, the memory spaces, broadly understood as "networks of interconnections among the representations of events," have not yet been studied from a theoretical perspective. Here we propose a mathematical approach that allows modeling memory spaces constructively, as epiphenomena of neuronal spiking activity and thus to interlink several important notions of cognitive neurophysiology. First, we suggest that memory spaces have a topological nature-a hypothesis that allows treating both spatial and non-spatial aspects of hippocampal function on equal footing. We then model the hippocampal memory spaces in different environments and demonstrate that the resulting constructions naturally incorporate the corresponding cognitive maps and provide a wider context for interpreting spatial information. Lastly, we propose a formal description of the memory consolidation process that connects memory spaces to the Morris' cognitive schemas-heuristic representations of the acquired memories, used to explain the dynamics of learning and memory consolidation in a given environment. The proposed approach allows evaluating these constructs as the most compact representations of the memory space's structure.