A Normative Theory of Forgetting: Lessons from the Fruit Fly

Brea, Johanni Michael; Urbanczik, Robert; Senn, Walter; Daunizeau, Jean (2014). A Normative Theory of Forgetting: Lessons from the Fruit Fly. PLoS computational biology, 10(6), e1003640. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003640

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Recent experiments revealed that the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster has a dedicated mechanism for forgetting: blocking the G-protein Rac leads to slower and activating Rac to faster forgetting. This active form of forgetting lacks a satisfactory functional explanation. We investigated optimal decision making for an agent adapting to a stochastic environment where a stimulus may switch between being indicative of reward or punishment. Like Drosophila, an optimal agent shows forgetting with a rate that is linked to the time scale of changes in the environment. Moreover, to reduce the odds of missing future reward, an optimal agent may trade the risk of immediate pain for information gain and thus forget faster after aversive conditioning. A simple neuronal network reproduces these features. Our theory shows that forgetting in Drosophila appears as an optimal adaptive behavior in a changing environment. This is in line with the view that forgetting is adaptive rather than a consequence of limitations of the memory system.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Physiology
10 Strategic Research Centers > Center for Cognition, Learning and Memory (CCLM)

UniBE Contributor:

Brea, Johanni Michael; Urbanczik, Robert and Senn, Walter

Subjects:

600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health

ISSN:

1553-734X

Publisher:

Public Library of Science

Language:

English

Submitter:

Stefan von Känel-Zimmermann

Date Deposited:

13 Jun 2014 15:23

Last Modified:

20 Jun 2016 09:50

Publisher DOI:

10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003640

PubMed ID:

24901935

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.53567

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/53567

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