September 2005
Volume 5, Issue 8
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2005
Posterior parietal cortex activity predicts individual differences in visual short-term memory capacity
Author Affiliations
  • James J. Todd
    Vanderbilt Vision Research Center, and Center for Integrative and Cognitive Neuroscience
  • René Marois
    Vanderbilt Vision Research Center, and Center for Integrative and Cognitive Neuroscience
Journal of Vision September 2005, Vol.5, 608. doi:10.1167/5.8.608
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      James J. Todd, René Marois; Posterior parietal cortex activity predicts individual differences in visual short-term memory capacity. Journal of Vision 2005;5(8):608. doi: 10.1167/5.8.608.

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Abstract

Humans show a severe capacity limit in the amount of information they can store in visual short-term memory (VSTM). We recently demonstrated in an fMRI experiment that storage capacity for a visual scene (object color & location), estimated in averaged group data, strongly correlated with activity in bilateral posterior parietal/superior occipital cortex (PPC/SOC; Todd & Marois, 2004). However, individuals vary widely in their VSTM capacity, and this is reflected in their electrophysiological activity (Vogel & Machizawa, 2004). Here we re-analyzed the fMRI data of Todd & Marois (2004) to determine whether individual differences in VSTM capacity is reflected in the neural activity of specific brain regions. Subjects memorized the color and location of a variable number of discs and, following a 5s retention interval, determined whether a single disc presented in a probe display matched in location and color one of the discs in the sample display. A voxel-wise, individual differences analysis revealed a significant correlation between PPC/SOC activity and individuals' VSTM capacity. A second, slow event-related fMRI experiment showed that this relationship exists primarily during the maintenance phase of VSTM. In addition, a more sensitive, region of interest (ROI) approach suggests that visual and frontal cortex activity is weakly correlated with individual differences in VSTM capacity. Taken together, these results support a key role for the posterior parietal/superior occipital cortex in VSTM by demonstrating that its activity level predicts individual differences in VSTM capacity.

Todd, J. J. Marois, R. (2005). Posterior parietal cortex activity predicts individual differences in visual short-term memory capacity [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 5(8):608, 608a, http://journalofvision.org/5/8/608/, doi:10.1167/5.8.608. [CrossRef]
Footnotes
 Supported by NSF Grant BCS-0094992
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