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Dominic Standage, Martin Paré, Gunnar Blohm; Hierarchical recruitment of competition alleviates working memory overload in a frontoparietal model. Journal of Vision 2019;19(12):8. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/19.12.8.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
The storage limitations of visual working memory have been the subject of intense research interest for several decades, but few studies have systematically investigated the dependence of these limitations on memory load that exceeds our retention abilities. Under this real-world scenario, performance typically declines beyond a critical load among low-performing subjects, a phenomenon known as working memory overload. We used a frontoparietal cortical model to test the hypothesis that high-performing subjects select a manageable number of items for storage, thereby avoiding overload. The model accounts for behavioral and electrophysiological data from high-performing subjects in a parameter regime where competitive encoding in its prefrontal network selects items for storage, interareal projections sustain their representations after stimulus offset, and weak dynamics in its parietal network limit their mutual interference. Violation of these principles accounts for these data among low-performing subjects, implying that poor visual working memory performance reflects poor control over frontoparietal circuitry, making testable predictions for experiments.
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