A COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE PERSPECTIVE ON
MEMORY FOR PROGRAMMING TASKS
Chris Parnin, Georgia Institute of Technology
In the year 2042, super
programmers strapped in SQUIDs
(superconducting quantum
interference devices) build
programs to sa...
SQUID SOUND LIKE
SCIENCE FICTION?
NO!!
These devices exist right
now -- just waiting to be
used!
COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE
Understanding how the functions
of the physical brain can yield
the thoughts and ideas of an
intang...
Benefits?
Image no more keyboards.
Direct measures of function
and understanding.
Better predictions and
constraints from ...
Background
Anatomy, techniques,
findings with focus on
memory
Insights
Insights from models
old and new
Impact
Tools, theo...
LOBES
Frontal Parietal
OccipitalMedial
Regions divided
by deep fissures
LIMBIC SYSTEM
Deep structures
within brain.
FUNCTION LOCALIZATION
HUMAN TECHNIQUES
Electro/magno-based
Measures change in neuron activity
Affects visible within milliseconds.
Location with...
ANIMAL TECHNIQUES
Gene Therapy
Bred mutant rats
Dye
Discover neural pathways
Lesions
Damage neural pathways
Habitation
The...
Stimulate neurons
with electricity
LONG-TERM POTENTIATION (LTP)
Effect found even after one year!
PLACE CELLS
VIRTUAL NAVIGATION
Participants navigate a
virtual town.
Recall paths.
Place cells fire.
NEUROGENESIS
Larger volume by
years of experience!
Size of taxi driver
hippocampus?
HIPPOCAMPAL ACTIVITY
Forgotten words Remembered words
Forgotten words Familiar words
(Entorhinal cortex)
AUTOMATIC MEMORY
We cannot anticipate important events.
We cannot always devote top-down resources to encode and select me...
HIPPOCAMPUS ANATOMY
Grand Central of the senses
Connections to sensory
processing and semantic
recognition. Connections to...
SNOWBALL TO BOULDER
Hippocampal LTP
Formed and tagged
for storage.
Consolidated memory
Replayed and stored at
original reg...
INSIGHT
So what?
A review, and new perspectives.
Sensory Short-term Long-term
Attention Encoding
Rehearsal
MODAL MODEL OF MEMORY
(1968)
Patients with no short-term memory ...
Sensory Short-term Long-term
Episodic
Buffer (2000)
Lifetime of seconds!
“Temporarily infinite”
WORKING MEMORY (1974)
Phon...
LONG-TERM WORKING MEMORY
(1995)
Good insight, theory formed without any neuroscience basis.
MEMORY 2.0
• Distributed
• Specialized
• Retained and Replayed
• Automatic without Rehearsal
• Immediate and Long-Lasting
MEMORY TYPES
Spatial
Prospective
Familiarity
Recency
Source
Semantic
…
See paper for more details!
Attention
Maintenance
Manipulation
Dynamic filtering
Auto
associative
retrieval
Auto
associative
encoding
Retrieval Encodi...
PROGRAMMING ENVIRONMENTS
Often do not associate name with memories of programming.
NAME IS NOT ENOUGH
TOOL DESIGN: MEMORY
• Auto-association
– Better distinct cues for learning?
• Spatial memory?
– Spatial stability, isolati...
THEORIES (BETA)
Visual Chunks
Initial formation of memory.
“Below the method with
lots of strings”
Iterative Comprehension...
EXPERIMENTS
Gender differences in brain activity during programming?
Neurogenesis in programmer’s brain?
Place cells (spat...
MUSCLES OF THE MIND
Subvocal
speech
EMG
(electromyography)
Cognition
0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900
Subvocal
Debug
Select
Click
Search
Edit
Formulating
Problem
Found
useful code
Formul...
QUESTIONS?
Indices
Spatial
Goals
Attention
Bindings
Visual
Goal Memory
space-goal binding.
Lesioned monkeys
Forget food location.
Variation
Change location,
keep consistent cue
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Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory for Software Engineers

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  • Review of recent findings in cognitive neuroscience. Discuss impacts on theories and tools for programmers.

    http://www.cc.gatech.edu/~vector/papers/memory.pdf
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  • With focus on memory
  • Familiarity is like hash
  • Lesions
  • Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory for Software Engineers

    1. 1. A COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE PERSPECTIVE ON MEMORY FOR PROGRAMMING TASKS Chris Parnin, Georgia Institute of Technology
    2. 2. In the year 2042, super programmers strapped in SQUIDs (superconducting quantum interference devices) build programs to save the earth from certain doom.
    3. 3. SQUID SOUND LIKE SCIENCE FICTION? NO!! These devices exist right now -- just waiting to be used!
    4. 4. COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE Understanding how the functions of the physical brain can yield the thoughts and ideas of an intangible mind. George Miller and Michael Gazzaniga
    5. 5. Benefits? Image no more keyboards. Direct measures of function and understanding. Better predictions and constraints from models. COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE
    6. 6. Background Anatomy, techniques, findings with focus on memory Insights Insights from models old and new Impact Tools, theories, experiments OVERVIEW
    7. 7. LOBES Frontal Parietal OccipitalMedial Regions divided by deep fissures
    8. 8. LIMBIC SYSTEM Deep structures within brain.
    9. 9. FUNCTION LOCALIZATION
    10. 10. HUMAN TECHNIQUES Electro/magno-based Measures change in neuron activity Affects visible within milliseconds. Location within centimeters. Examples • EEG • MEG Blood oxygen-based Measures change in blood activity. Affects visible within seconds. Location within millimeters. Examples • fMRI • Optical imaging
    11. 11. ANIMAL TECHNIQUES Gene Therapy Bred mutant rats Dye Discover neural pathways Lesions Damage neural pathways Habitation The kitten who only saw vertical lines Cats, Monkeys, Mice Oh My!
    12. 12. Stimulate neurons with electricity LONG-TERM POTENTIATION (LTP) Effect found even after one year!
    13. 13. PLACE CELLS
    14. 14. VIRTUAL NAVIGATION Participants navigate a virtual town. Recall paths. Place cells fire.
    15. 15. NEUROGENESIS Larger volume by years of experience! Size of taxi driver hippocampus?
    16. 16. HIPPOCAMPAL ACTIVITY Forgotten words Remembered words Forgotten words Familiar words (Entorhinal cortex)
    17. 17. AUTOMATIC MEMORY We cannot anticipate important events. We cannot always devote top-down resources to encode and select memory. Initial memory is largely formed without conscious effort.
    18. 18. HIPPOCAMPUS ANATOMY Grand Central of the senses Connections to sensory processing and semantic recognition. Connections to frontal regions. Brain Hashtable Hippocampal neurons cannot store directly, index to original source. Recording factors Novel, engaging, high-frequency…
    19. 19. SNOWBALL TO BOULDER Hippocampal LTP Formed and tagged for storage. Consolidated memory Replayed and stored at original regions. Top-down associations Properties our bound to memory. “Rehearsal” is activation of speech motor.
    20. 20. INSIGHT So what? A review, and new perspectives.
    21. 21. Sensory Short-term Long-term Attention Encoding Rehearsal MODAL MODEL OF MEMORY (1968) Patients with no short-term memory still have long-term memory…
    22. 22. Sensory Short-term Long-term Episodic Buffer (2000) Lifetime of seconds! “Temporarily infinite” WORKING MEMORY (1974) Phonological loop Visio-Spatial Sketch pad Central Executive
    23. 23. LONG-TERM WORKING MEMORY (1995) Good insight, theory formed without any neuroscience basis.
    24. 24. MEMORY 2.0 • Distributed • Specialized • Retained and Replayed • Automatic without Rehearsal • Immediate and Long-Lasting
    25. 25. MEMORY TYPES Spatial Prospective Familiarity Recency Source Semantic … See paper for more details!
    26. 26. Attention Maintenance Manipulation Dynamic filtering Auto associative retrieval Auto associative encoding Retrieval Encoding TASK MEMORY MODEL (beta) Indices Spatial Goals Attention Bindings Visual Frontal Associative Perceptual ProcessRegions Note, top-down iteration is a “brain design-pattern” found in many neural circuits.
    27. 27. PROGRAMMING ENVIRONMENTS
    28. 28. Often do not associate name with memories of programming. NAME IS NOT ENOUGH
    29. 29. TOOL DESIGN: MEMORY • Auto-association – Better distinct cues for learning? • Spatial memory? – Spatial stability, isolation • Prospective memory? – Better reminders than a compile error or TODO? • Forgetting? – Code history and provenance
    30. 30. THEORIES (BETA) Visual Chunks Initial formation of memory. “Below the method with lots of strings” Iterative Comprehension Top-down experiences will bind and update partial representations. Concepts form. Navigational Jitter Tabs, scrolling huge files, little understanding -- need memory aids.
    31. 31. EXPERIMENTS Gender differences in brain activity during programming? Neurogenesis in programmer’s brain? Place cells (spatial) during programming navigation? Your idea?
    32. 32. MUSCLES OF THE MIND Subvocal speech EMG (electromyography) Cognition
    33. 33. 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 Subvocal Debug Select Click Search Edit Formulating Problem Found useful code Formulating solution EditingFound useful code Evaluating Moments of interest and difficulty
    34. 34. QUESTIONS? Indices Spatial Goals Attention Bindings Visual
    35. 35. Goal Memory space-goal binding. Lesioned monkeys Forget food location. Variation Change location, keep consistent cue

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