Apr 9, 2020

Selective control of working memory in prefrontal, parietal, and visual cortex

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
M. F. Panichello, Timothy J Buschman

Abstract

Cognitive control guides behavior by controlling what, where, and how information is represented in the brain. Previous work has shown parietal and prefrontal cortex direct attention, which controls the representation of external sensory stimuli. However, the neural mechanisms controlling the selection of representations held 'in mind', in working memory, are unknown. To address this, we trained two monkeys to switch between two tasks, requiring them to either select an item from a set of items held in working memory or attend to one stimulus from a set of visual stimuli. Simultaneous neural recordings in prefrontal, parietal, and visual cortex found prefrontal cortex played a primary role in selecting an item from working memory, representing selection before parietal and visual cortex. Surprisingly, a common population representation in prefrontal cortex encoded selection of an item in working memory and attention to an external stimulus, suggesting prefrontal cortex may act as a domain-general controller. Selection acted on memory representations in two ways. First, selection improved the accuracy of memory reports by enhancing the selected item's representation in prefrontal and parietal cortex. Second, selection transforme...Continue Reading

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