Allen, C. and Lange, T. (forthcoming) Primary sequential memory: an activation-based connectionist model. Neurocomputing

Storage and retrieval of ordered sequences from a single, serial presentation of each element in the sequence is typically not explained by existing connectionist models. Some models finesse the issue by presenting all the elements in a sequence simultaneously. Others rely on weight-changing algorithms that require multiple presentations of the sequence. We present a model for short-term storage and recall of ordered information that relies on gated activation mechanisms. Activation from each element presented serially recruits randomly connected responder nodes whose combined activation represents the element and its position in the sequence. The sequence is later recalled by feeding activation back to the elements from the recruited responder nodes. We discuss the relevance of the model to various results from cognitive psychology, including the facts that the length of human sequential memory is very limited, that for novel sequences recall is better for elements at the beginning and ends of sequences than for elements in the middle, and that humans have greater difficulty recalling the second occurrence of an element in a sequence containing a repeated element.