Sustained Activity Encoding Working Memories: Not Fully Distributed

TitleSustained Activity Encoding Working Memories: Not Fully Distributed
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsLeavitt, ML, Mendoza-Halliday, D, J.C., M-T
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Date PublishedJune 2017
Keywordsworking memory sustained activity neurophysiology fMRI primate review

Working memory (WM) is the ability to remember and manipulate information for short time intervals. Recent studies have proposed that sustained firing encoding the contents of WM is ubiquitous across cortical neurons. We review here the collective evidence supporting this claim. A variety of studies report that neurons in prefrontal, parietal, and inferotemporal association cortices show robust sustained activity encoding the location and features of memoranda during WM tasks. However, reports of WM-related sustained activity in early sensory areas are rare, and typically lack stimulus specificity. We propose that robust sustained activity that can support WM coding arises as a property of association cortices downstream from the early stages of sensory processing.


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