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Synaptic origins of working memory capacity

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Working memory plays a fundamental role in many cognitive tasks. It is thus puzzling that its capacity is extremely limited, averaging just 4 items for most of the people. The origins of this limit are not clear. I will consider this issue in the framework of synaptic theory of working memory. I will derive an analytical estimate for capacity in terms of basic parameters of short-term synaptic plasticity and neuronal spike-generation dynamics. The obtained expression indicates that capacity can be tuned to the desired level by modulating the average excitation in the network. If time permits, I will show how this process could account for spontaneous chunking of word lists in free recall experiments.

This talk is part of the Computational Neuroscience series.

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