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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; (2018) Reconciling persistent and dynamic hypotheses of working memory coding in prefrontal cortex. Nature Communications (In press).

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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: Article
Title: Reconciling persistent and dynamic hypotheses of working memory coding in prefrontal cortex
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10054059
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