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Keisuke Fukuda, Geoffrey Woodman; Oscillatory correlates of visual working memories uploaded from long-term memory. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):37. doi: 10.1167/16.12.37.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Our visual working memory (VWM) allows us to represent a limited amount of visual information in the service of current task demands. Studies thus far have almost exclusively examined situations in which new visual inputs are maintained over brief retention intervals. However, several theories propose that visual information is also maintained in VWM when it is retrieved from visual long-term memory (VLTM). In this study, we first had participants learn spatial layouts of colored objects that varied in their set size (i.e., 1 2 4 or 8 objects). When learning was complete, we presented a letter cue associated with each array and had participants retrieve the learned array while we recorded their scalp activity to examine previously established neural correlates of VWM. We found that an oscillatory correlate (i.e., posterior alpha power modulations, Fukuda, Mance & Vogel, 2015) showed the same set size effect we observed when VWM is used to store new visual inputs. That is, when participants were accessing the learned arrays, the alpha band power showed a monotonic decline up to the set size 4 with no further decrease for larger arrays. Furthermore, when participants were asked to retrieve a portion of the learned array (Experiment 2) or asked to retrieve two learned arrays simultaneously (Experiment 3), the alpha power modulation reflected the amount of task-relevant information retrieved from VLTM. These findings suggest that visual information retrieved from VLTM is represented by the same neural dynamics that maintain new visual inputs. This study supports classic theories that propose that when information is retrieved from VLTM it is represented in VWM, similar to new visual inputs.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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