It’s hard to forget: resetting memory in delay-match-to-multiple-image tasks

The Delay-Match-to-Sample (DMS) task has been used in countless studies of memory, undergoing numerous modifications, making the task more and more challenging to participants. The physiological correlate of memory is modified neural activity during the cue-to-match delay period reflecting reverberating attractor activity in multiple interconnected cells. DMS tasks may use a fixed set of well-practiced stimulus images—allowing for creation of attractors—or unlimited novel images, for which no attractor exists. Using well-learned stimuli requires that participants determine if a remembered image was seen in the same or a preceding trial, only responding to the former. Thus, trial-to-trial transitions must include a “reset” mechanism to mark old images as such. We test two groups of monkeys on a delay-match-to-multiple-images task, one with well-trained and one with novel images. Only the first developed a reset mechanism. We then switched tasks between the groups. We find that introducing fixed images initiates development of reset, and once established, switching to novel images does not disable its use. Without reset, memory decays slowly, leaving ~40% recognizable after a minute. Here, presence of reward further enhances memory of previously-seen images.

Authors: V. Yakovlev, Y. Amit and S. Hochstein
Year of publication: 2013
Journal: Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 7: 765

Link to publication:


“Working memory”