An attention modulated associative network.

12 October 2011

We present an elemental model of associative learning that describes interactions between stimulus elements as a process of competitive normalization. Building on the assumptions laid out in Harris (2006), stimuli are represented as an array of elements that compete for attention according to the strength of their input. Elements form associations among each other according to temporal correlations in their activation but restricted by their connectivity. The model moves beyond its predecessor by specifying excitatory, inhibitory, and attention processes for each element in real time and describing their interaction as a form of suppressive gain control. Attention is formalized in this model as a network of mutually inhibitory units that moderate the activation of stimulus elements by controlling the level to which the elements are suppressed by their own inhibitory processes. The model is applied to a range of complex discriminations and related phenomena that have been taken as evidence for configural-learning processes.