Concurrent maintenance of both veridical and transformed working memory representations

  • In a dynamic environment, the already limited information that human working memory can maintain needs to be constantly updated to optimally guide behaviour. Indeed, previous studies showed that working memory representations are continuously being transformed during delay periods leading up to a response. This goes hand-in-hand with the removal of task-irrelevant items. However, does such removal also include veridical, original stimuli, as they were prior to transformation? Here we aimed to assess the neural representation of task-relevant transformed representations, compared to the no-longer-relevant veridical representations they originated from. We applied multivariate pattern analysis to electroencephalographic data during maintenance of orientation gratings with and without mental rotation. During maintenance, we perturbed the representational network by means of a visual impulse stimulus, and were thus able to successfully decode veridical as well as imaginary, transformed orientation gratings from impulse-driven activity. On the one hand, the impulse response reflected only task-relevant (cued), but not task-irrelevant (uncued) items, suggesting that the latter were quickly discarded from working memory. By contrast, even though the original cued orientation gratings were also no longer task-relevant after mental rotation, these items continued to be represented next to the rotated ones, in different representational formats. This seemingly inefficient use of scarce working memory capacity was associated with reduced probe response times and may thus serve to increase precision and flexibility in guiding behaviour in dynamic environments.

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Author:Güven KandemirORCiD, Michael J. WolffORCiD, Aytaç KarabayORCiD, Mark G. Stokes, Nikolai AxmacherORCiDGND, Elkan Gamzu AkyürekORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):bioRxiv
Document Type:Preprint
Date of Publication (online):2022/10/28
Date of first Publication:2022/10/28
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2023/09/14
Page Number:36
Institutes:Angeschlossene und kooperierende Institutionen / MPI für Hirnforschung
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY-NC-ND - Namensnennung - Nicht kommerziell - Keine Bearbeitungen 4.0 International