Working memory and decision processes in visual area v4

Front Neurosci. 2013 Feb 26:7:18. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2013.00018. eCollection 2013.


Recognizing and responding to a remembered stimulus requires the coordination of perception, working memory, and decision-making. To investigate the role of visual cortex in these processes, we recorded responses of single V4 neurons during performance of a delayed match-to-sample task that incorporates rapid serial visual presentation of natural images. We found that neuronal activity during the delay period after the cue but before the images depends on the identity of the remembered image and that this change persists while distractors appear. This persistent response modulation has been identified as a diagnostic criterion for putative working memory signals; our data thus suggest that working memory may involve reactivation of sensory neurons. When the remembered image reappears in the neuron's receptive field, visually evoked responses are enhanced; this match enhancement is a diagnostic criterion for decision. One model that predicts these data is the matched filter hypothesis, which holds that during search V4 neurons change their tuning so as to match the remembered cue, and thus become detectors for that image. More generally, these results suggest that V4 neurons participate in the perceptual, working memory, and decision processes that are needed to perform memory-guided decision-making.

Keywords: attention; delayed match-to-sample; feature-based attention; matched filter; rapid serial visual presentation.