The contralateral delay activity as a neural measure of visual working memory

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2016 Mar;62:100-8. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.01.003. Epub 2016 Jan 21.


The contralateral delay activity (CDA) is a negative slow wave sensitive to the number of objects maintained in visual working memory (VWM). In recent years, a growing number of labs started to use the CDA in order to investigate VWM, leading to many fascinating discoveries. Here, we discuss the recent developments and contribution of the CDA in various research fields. Importantly, we report two meta-analyses that unequivocally validate the relationship between the set-size increase in the CDA amplitude and the individual VWM capacity, and between the CDA and filtering efficiency. We further discuss how the CDA was used to study the role of VWM in visual search, multiple object tracking, grouping, binding, and whether VWM capacity allocation is determined by the items' resolution or instead by the number of objects regardless of their complexity. In addition, we report how the CDA has been used to characterize specific VWM deficits in special populations.

Keywords: Contralateral delay activity; Event related potentials; Visual working memory.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Task Performance and Analysis*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*