Culture-specific representations of the same emotions (i.e. happy, disgust and anger). from Revealing the information contents of memory within the stimulus information representation framework

The information contents of memory are the cornerstone of the most influential models in cognition. To illustrate, consider that in predictive coding, a prediction implies that specific information is propagated down from memory through the visual hierarchy. Likewise, recognizing the input implies that sequentially accrued sensory evidence is successfully matched with memorized information (categorical knowledge). Although the existing models of prediction, memory, sensory representation and categorical decision are all implicitly cast within an information processing framework, it remains a challenge to precisely specify what this information is, and therefore where, when and how the architecture of the brain dynamically processes it to produce behaviour. Here, we review a framework that addresses these challenges for the studies of perception and categorization––stimulus information representation (SIR). We illustrate how SIR can reverse engineer the information contents of memory from behavioural and brain measures in the context of specific cognitive tasks that involve memory. We discuss two specific lessons from this approach that generally apply to memory studies: the importance of task, to constrain what the brain does, and of stimulus variations, to identify the specific information contents that are memorized, predicted, recalled and replayed.This article is part of the Theo Murphy meeting issue ‘Memory reactivation: replaying events past, present and future’.