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Reconciling persistent and dynamic hypotheses of working memory coding in prefrontal cortex

Cavanagh, SE; Towers, JP; Wallis, JD; Hunt, LT; Kennerley, SW; (2017) Reconciling persistent and dynamic hypotheses of working memory coding in prefrontal cortex. bioRxiv Green open access

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Abstract

Competing accounts propose that working memory (WM) is subserved either by persistent activity in single neurons or by dynamic (time-varying) activity across a neural population. Here we compare these hypotheses across four regions of prefrontal cortex (PFC) in a spatial WM task, where an intervening distractor indicated the reward available for a correct saccade. WM representations were strongest in ventrolateral PFC (VLPFC) neurons with higher intrinsic temporal stability (time constant). At the population-level, although a stable mnemonic state was reached during the delay, this tuning geometry was reversed relative to cue-period selectivity, and was disrupted by the distractor. Single-neuron analysis revealed many neurons switched to coding reward, rather than maintaining task-relevant spatial selectivity until saccade. These results imply WM is fulfilled by dynamic, population-level activity within high time-constant neurons. Rather than persistent activity upporting stable mnemonic representations that bridge distraction, PFC neurons may stabilise a dynamic population-level process that supports WM.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: Reconciling persistent and dynamic hypotheses of working memory coding in prefrontal cortex
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: The copyright holder for this preprint is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity. It is made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/)
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Clinical and Movement Neurosciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10054059
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