Gated working memory is defined as the capacity of holding arbitrary information at any time in order to be used at a later time. Based on electrophysiological recordings, several computational models have tackled the problem using dedicated and explicit mechanisms. We propose instead to consider an implicit mechanism based on a random recurrent neural network. We introduce a robust yet simple reservoir model of gated working memory with instantaneous updates. The model is able to store an arbitrary real value at random time over an extended period of time. The dynamics of the model is a line attractor that learns to exploit reentry and a nonlinearity during the training phase using only a few representative values. A deeper study of the model shows that there is actually a large range of hyperparameters for which the results hold (e.g., number of neurons, sparsity, global weight scaling) such that any large enough population, mixing excitatory and inhibitory neurons, can quickly learn to realize such gated working memory. In a nutshell, with a minimal set of hypotheses, we show that we can have a robust model of working memory. This suggests this property could be an implicit property of any random population, that can be acquired through learning. Furthermore, considering working memory to be a physically open but functionally closed system, we give account on some counterintuitive electrophysiological recordings.

Supplementary data

You do not currently have access to this content.