Visualizing Memory as Color

A few months ago, I stumbled on a seminal mathematical model for human long-term memory called the Sparse Distributed Memory by Pentti Kanerva and I was really struck by how much sense it made. Since then, I've been thinking about how information is encoded and how to visualize it so to better understand it.

Memories become physical representations, or engram 'traces' stored in neurons and they naturally decay over time. It helped me to think of a visual memory in a topographical way, where an image was represented by bits that would erode into some other state or color.  An analogy for this could be extraneous noise or static drowning out a signal once it exceeds a critical threshold.   

I was also struck by the discovery of how biased individual perception and attention seems to be -- not only are we conditioned by previous experiences and primed to associate things to one another that occur temporally or spatially close together -- but attention is also a limited resource that becomes distorted by what the brain prioritizes to be import -- in a way, our conscious awareness places objects in the environment into a kind of competition with one another for our attention.

I thought it was interesting to think about color matrices as a way to understand these processes. Here are some images that I have been playing around with this weekend for a bit of fun.

Hope you enjoy them!

 Fading Traces of Competing Colors

 Fading Traces of Competing Colors

Memory Decay  

Memory Decay

 

    Engram Trace

    Engram Trace

Extraneous Noise 1

Extraneous Noise 1

Extraneous Noise 2

Extraneous Noise 2

Extraneous Noise 3

Extraneous Noise 3

Extraneous Noise 4

Extraneous Noise 4

Extraneous Noise 5

Extraneous Noise 5