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Evelien Heyselaar, Kevin Johnston, Martin Paré; A change detection approach to study visual working memory of the macaque monkey. Journal of Vision 2011;11(3):11. doi: 10.1167/11.3.11.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
A core aspect of working memory is that only a limited amount of information can be held at one time, but the investigations of its underlying neural mechanisms in animal models have been dominated by paradigms requiring the retention of a single memorandum. In humans, the information processing limitations of visual working memory have been studied extensively using a sequential comparison procedure, in which subjects detect a change in a multiple-item array following a retention interval. Here, we adopted this approach to study the working memory ability of the macaque monkey. We trained two female rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) to perform a change detection task, in which they were required to report with a saccadic eye movement which one of several items (two to five colored stimuli) in a array had changed color after a 1-s retention interval. Performance gradually declined as a function of set size but always exceeded chance probability. These results show that monkeys possess sufficient information processing capability to perform a visual working memory task requiring the simultaneous maintenance of mnemonic representations of multiple items and validate this animal model for investigation of the neural mechanisms underlying the temporary retention of more than one memorandum.
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