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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 , 9 , Article 3498. 10.1038/s41467-018-05873-3. 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 an oculomotor-delayed-response task, where an intervening cue indicated the reward available for a correct saccade. WM representations were strongest in ventrolateral PFC 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 reward cue. 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 supporting stable mnemonic representations that bridge subsequent salient stimuli, PFC neurons may stabilise a dynamic population-level process supporting WM.

Type: Article
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
DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05873-3
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-05873-3
Language: English
Additional information: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons license, users will need to obtain permission from the license holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Keywords: Science & Technology, Multidisciplinary Sciences, Science & Technology - Other Topics, POSTERIOR PARIETAL CORTEX, SHORT-TERM-MEMORY, CORTICAL NETWORK MODEL, BASE-LINE ACTIVITY, ORBITOFRONTAL CORTEX, NEURONAL-ACTIVITY, DECISION-MAKING, NEURAL ACTIVITY, RHESUS-MONKEY, MIXED SELECTIVITY
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/10056641
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