Both the hippocampus and amygdala are involved in working memory (WM) processing. However, their specific role in WM is still an open question. Here, we simultaneously recorded intracranial EEG from the amygdala and hippocampus of epilepsy patients while performing a WM task, and compared their representation patterns during the encoding and maintenance periods. By combining multivariate representational analysis and connectivity analyses with machine learning methods, our results revealed a functional specialization of the amygdala-hippocampal circuit: The mnemonic representations in the amygdala were highly distinct and decreased from encoding to maintenance. The hippocampal representations, however, were more similar across different items but remained stable in the absence of the stimulus. WM encoding and maintenance were associated with bidirectional information flow between the amygdala and the hippocampus in low-frequency bands (1-40 Hz). Furthermore, the decoding accuracy on WM load was higher by using representational features in the amygdala during encoding and in the hippocampus during maintenance, and by using information flow from the amygdala during encoding and that from the hippocampus during maintenance, respectively. Taken together, our study reveals that WM processing is associated with functional specialization and interaction within the amygdala-hippocampus circuit.
© 2023. The Author(s).