Memory as Prediction: From Looking Back to Looking Forward
Tomaso Vecchi is Professor of Cognitive Psychology, Head of the Department of Brain and Behavioral Sciences, and Vice-Rector at the University of Pavia, Italy. He is also Head of the Cognitive Neurostimulation Lab at the National Neurological Institute, IRCCS Mondino Foundation.
Theoretical reflections on memory and prediction, linking these concepts to the role of the cerebellum in higher cognition.
What is memory? What is memory for? Where is memory in the brain? Although memory is probably the most studied function in cognition, these fundamental questions remain challenging. We can try to answer the question of memory's purpose by defining the function of memory as remembering the past. And yet this definition is not consistent with the many errors that characterize our memory, or with the phylogenetic and ontogenetic origin of memory. In this book, Tomaso Vecchi and Daniele Gatti argue that the purpose of memory is not to remember the past but to predict the future.
Vecchi and Gatti link memory and prediction to the role of the cerebellum in higher cognition, relying on recent empirical data to support theoretical reflections. They propose a new model of memory functions that comprises a system devoted to prediction, based in the cerebellum and mediated by the hippocampus, and a parallel system with a major role for cortical structures and mediated by the amygdala. Although memory is often conceived as a kind of storehouse, this storehouse is constantly changing, integrating new information in a continual process of modification. In order to explain these characteristics, Vecchi and Gatti argue, we must change our interpretation of the nature and functions of the memory system.
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