Persistent single neuron activity during working memory in the human medial temporal lobe

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Authors Simon Kornblith, Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, Christof Koch, Itzhak Fried, Florian Mormann
Journal/Conference Name Current Biology
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Working memory is an essential component of human cognition. Persistent activity related to working memory has been reported in many brain areas, including the inferior temporal and prefrontal cortex [1-8]. The medial temporal lobe (MTL) contains "concept cells" that respond invariantly to specific individuals or places whether presented as images, text, or speech [9, 10]. It is unknown, however, whether the MTL also participates in working memory processes. We thus sought to determine whether human MTL neurons respond to images held in working memory. We recorded from patients with chronically intractable epilepsy as they performed a task that required them to remember three or four sequentially presented pictures across a brief delay. 48% of visually selective neurons continued to carry image-specific information after image offset, but most ceased to encode previously presented images after a subsequent presentation of a different image. However, 8% of visually selective neurons encoded previously presented images during a final maintenance period, despite presentation of further images in the intervening interval. Population activity of stimulus-selective neurons predicted behavioral outcome in terms of correct and incorrect responses. These findings indicate that the MTL is part of a brain-wide network for working memory.
Date of publication 2017
Code Programming Language Jupyter Notebook
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