Different states of priority recruit different neural representations in visual working memory

PLoS Biol. 2020 Jun 29;18(6):e3000769. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.3000769. eCollection 2020 Jun.


We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural codes for representing stimulus information held in different states of priority in working memory. Human participants (male and female) performed delayed recall for 2 oriented gratings that could appear in any of several locations. Priority status was manipulated by a retrocue, such that one became the prioritized memory item (PMI) and another the unprioritized memory item (UMI). Using inverted encoding models (IEMs), we found that, in early visual cortex, the orientation of the UMI was represented in a neural representation that was rotated relative to the PMI. In intraparietal sulcus (IPS), we observed the analogous effect for the representation of the location of the UMI. Taken together, these results provide evidence for a common remapping mechanism that may be responsible for representing stimulus identity and stimulus context with different levels of priority in working memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Behavior
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult