Working memory is our ability to select and temporarily hold information as needed for complex cognitive operations. The temporal dynamics of sustained and transient neural activity supporting the selection and holding of memory content is not known. To address this problem, we recorded magnetoencephalography in healthy participants performing a retro-cue working memory task in which the selection rule and the memory content varied independently. Multivariate decoding and source analyses showed that selecting the memory content relies on prefrontal and parieto-occipital persistent oscillatory neural activity. By contrast, the memory content was reactivated in a distributed occipitotemporal posterior network, preceding the working memory decision and in a different format than during the visual encoding. These results identify a neural signature of content selection and characterize differentiated spatiotemporal constraints for subprocesses of working memory.
The Journal of Neuroscience: https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2764-18.2019