The storage of memories are enigma that is bewildering.Nice of you to put together this piece explaining how we identify pattern and at the same time differentiate them.
It is really astonishing that, how much of the why and when of our feelings is still unexplained.The Vedanta in the ancient Indian Philosophy have identified them as something which is done in the virtual body and not the physical body or neurons as you make out.
The connections that you mention are are slow in some and pretty rapid in some people which needs explanation. There are people who recognise faces quickly and there are people who are poor at them. And then there are people who remember things from earlier lives which body and the neurons are already decayed and destroyed.
Looking forward to more research and publications from your end which I would love to follow.And from my side I will keep adding information from the Vedanta about how thoughts and experiences are stored transfered and experienced.