August 2009
Volume 9, Issue 8
Free
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   August 2009
Global mechanisms of sensory recruitment during working memory maintenance
Author Affiliations
  • Edward Ester
    Department of Psychology, University of Oregon
  • John Serences
    Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego
  • Edward Awh
    Department of Psychology, University of Oregon
Journal of Vision August 2009, Vol.9, 597. doi:10.1167/9.8.597
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      Edward Ester, John Serences, Edward Awh; Global mechanisms of sensory recruitment during working memory maintenance. Journal of Vision 2009;9(8):597. doi: 10.1167/9.8.597.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Abstract

According to the sensory recruitment hypothesis, information is stored in working memory via sustained activity in the same sensory regions that encode memoranda. In a recent study, we reported that patterns of delay activity in primary visual cortex (V1) reliably indexed specific feature values (color, orientation) of remembered objects (Serences, Ester, Vogel, & Awh, in press, Psychological Science). Here, we asked whether stimulus-specific delay activity would also be observed in cortical regions that were not activated by bottom-up stimulation, as has been observed during sustained attention to motion stimuli (Serences & Boynton, 2007, Neuron). Observers were shown an oriented grating in either the right or left visual field, followed by a post-cue that instructed them to remember or forget this orientation across a 16s delay period. Our analysis was restricted to voxels that showed the strongest contralateral (relative to ipsilateral) responses during a separate set of functional localizer scans. Consistent with prior reports, the pattern of activation in both contralateral and ipsilateral regions of V1 enabled accurate classification of the to-be-remembered orientation during the encoding phase of each trial. Moreover, we found that a similar activation pattern was maintained throughout the delay period in both contralateral and ipsilateral regions of V1. Importantly, these delay period effects were absent in trials with the “no-memory” postcue, showing that positive results during “remember” trials were not a passive effect of encoding the sample stimulus. Thus, the sensory regions that are recruited during rehearsal in visual WM extend beyond the regions that respond in a bottom-up fashion to the memoranda. This type of spatially-global gain modulation may serve to enhance mnemonic acuity by increasing the number of neurons dedicated to representing the memoranda.

Ester, E. Serences, J. Awh, E. (2009). Global mechanisms of sensory recruitment during working memory maintenance [Abstract]. Journal of Vision, 9(8):597, 597a, http://journalofvision.org/9/8/597/, doi:10.1167/9.8.597. [CrossRef]
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