Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
The concepts of declarative memory and procedural memory have been used to distinguish two basic types of learning. A neural network model suggests how such memory processes work together as recognition learning, reinforcement learning, and sensorimotor learning take place during adaptive behaviors. To coordinate these processes, the hippocampal formation and cerebellum each contains circuits that learn to adaptively time their outputs. Within the model, hippocampal timing helps to maintain attention on motivationally salient goal objects during variable task-related delays, and cerebellar timing controls the release of conditioned responses. This property is part of the model's description of how cognitive-emotional interactions focus attention on motivationally valued cues, and how this process breaks down due to hippocampal ablation. The model suggests that the hippocampal mechanisms that help to rapidly draw attention to salient cues could prematurely release motor commands were not the release of these commands adaptively timed by the cerebellum. The model hippocampal system modulates cortical recognition learning without actually encoding the representational information that the cortex encodes. These properties avoid the difficulties faced by several models that propose a direct hippocampal role in recognition learning. Learning within the model hippocampal system controls adaptive timing and spatial orientation. Model properties hereby clarify how hippocampal ablations cause amnesic symptoms and difficulties with tasks which combine task delays, novelty detection, and attention toward goal objects amid distractions. When these model recognition, reinforcement, sensorimotor, and timing processes work together, they suggest how the brain can accomplish conditioning of multiple sensory events to delayed rewards, as during serial compound conditioning.