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J Cogn Neurosci. 2009 Nov;21(11):2047-72. doi: 10.1162/jocn.2009.21280.

Cortex and memory: emergence of a new paradigm.

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University of California, Los Angeles, Semel Institute, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


Converging evidence from humans and nonhuman primates is obliging us to abandon conventional models in favor of a radically different, distributed-network paradigm of cortical memory. Central to the new paradigm is the concept of memory network or cognit--that is, a memory or an item of knowledge defined by a pattern of connections between neuron populations associated by experience. Cognits are hierarchically organized in terms of semantic abstraction and complexity. Complex cognits link neurons in noncontiguous cortical areas of prefrontal and posterior association cortex. Cognits overlap and interconnect profusely, even across hierarchical levels (heterarchically), whereby a neuron can be part of many memory networks and thus many memories or items of knowledge.

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