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Working Memory Replay Prioritizes Weakly Attended Events

Jafarpour, A; Penny, W; Barnes, G; Knight, RT; Duzel, E; (2017) Working Memory Replay Prioritizes Weakly Attended Events. eNeuro , 4 (4) , Article e0171-17.2017. 10.1523/ENEURO.0171-17.2017. Green open access

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Abstract

One view of working memory posits that maintaining a series of events requires their sequential and equal mnemonic replay. Another view is that the content of working memory maintenance is prioritized by attention. We decoded the dynamics for retaining a sequence of items using magnetoencephalography, wherein participants encoded sequences of three stimuli depicting a face, a manufactured object, or a natural item and maintained them in working memory for 5000 ms. Memory for sequence position and stimulus details were probed at the end of the maintenance period. Decoding of brain activity revealed that one of the three stimuli dominated maintenance independent of its sequence position or category; and memory was enhanced for the selectively replayed stimulus. Analysis of event-related responses during the encoding of the sequence showed that the selectively replayed stimuli were determined by the degree of attention at encoding. The selectively replayed stimuli had the weakest initial encoding indexed by weaker visual attention signals at encoding. These findings do not rule out sequential mnemonic replay but reveal that attention influences the content of working memory maintenance by prioritizing replay of weakly encoded events. We propose that the prioritization of weakly encoded stimuli protects them from interference during the maintenance period, whereas the more strongly encoded stimuli can be retrieved from long-term memory at the end of the delay period.

Type: Article
Title: Working Memory Replay Prioritizes Weakly Attended Events
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1523/ENEURO.0171-17.2017
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0171-17.2017
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2017 Jafarpour et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly attributed.
Keywords: Decoding, magnetoencephalography, maintenance, working memory
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 > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience
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 > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1571153
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