Retrieving a memory can modify its influence on subsequent behavior. We develop a computational theory of memory modification, according to which modification of a memory trace occurs through classical associative learning, but which memory trace is eligible for modification depends on a structure learning mechanism that discovers the units of association by segmenting the stream of experience into statistically distinct clusters (latent causes). New memories are formed when the structure learning mechanism infers that a new latent cause underlies current sensory observations. By the same token, old memories are modified when old and new sensory observations are inferred to have been generated by the same latent cause. We derive this framework from probabilistic principles, and present a computational implementation. Simulations demonstrate that our model can reproduce the major experimental findings from studies of memory modification in the Pavlovian conditioning literature.
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