Analyses of Markov Decision Process Structure Regarding the Possible Strategic Use of Interacting Memory Systems
Zilli, Eric A.
Hasselmo, Michael E.
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CitationZilli, Eric A., Michael E. Hasselmo. "Analyses of Markov Decision Process Structure Regarding the Possible Strategic Use of Interacting Memory Systems" Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience 2 (2008)
Behavioral tasks are often used to study the different memory systems present in humans and animals. Such tasks are usually designed to isolate and measure some aspect of a single memory system. However, it is not necessarily clear that any given task actually does isolate a system or that the strategy used by a subject in the experiment is the one desired by the experimenter. We have previously shown that when tasks are written mathematically as a form of partially observable Markov decision processes, the structure of the tasks provide information regarding the possible utility of certain memory systems. These previous analyses dealt with the disambiguation problem: given a specific ambiguous observation of the environment, is there information provided by a given memory strategy that can disambiguate that observation to allow a correct decision? Here we extend this approach to cases where multiple memory systems can be strategically combined in different ways. Specifically, we analyze the disambiguation arising from three ways by which episodic-like memory retrieval might be cued (by another episodic-like memory, by a semantic association, or by working memory for some earlier observation). We also consider the disambiguation arising from holding earlier working memories, episodic-like memories or semantic associations in working memory. From these analyses we can begin to develop a quantitative hierarchy among memory systems in which stimulus-response memories and semantic associations provide no disambiguation while the episodic memory system provides the most flexible disambiguation, with working memory at an intermediate level.