Poster B55, Sunday, March 26, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Top-down modulation of threatening representations in visual working memory
Bo-Cheng Kuo1, Yei-Yu Yeh1; 1National Taiwan University, Taiwan
Recent studies have shown that top-down attention can bias task-relevant representations in visual working memory (WM). Accumulating evidence has also revealed the effects of emotional arousal on attentional processing. However, it remains unclear whether top-down attention can regulate emotional memoranda in WM. In this study, we investigated the neural mechanisms of top-down modulation on threatening representations during WM maintenance with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Participants were instructed to remember a threatening object and a neutral object in a cued variant delayed response WM task. Retrospective cues (retro-cues) were presented to direct attention to the hemifield of a threatening object (i.e., cue-to-threat trials) or a neutral object (i.e., cue-to-neutral trials) during a retention interval prior to the probe test. We found greater neural responses in extrastriate visual areas and amygdala for cue-to-threat objects compared to cue-to-neutral ones. We also showed that retro-cues elicited activity in a large-scale network implicated in attentional control and led to spatiotopic modulation of activity in extrastriate visual areas. Importantly, directing attention towards threatening representations compared to neutral representations during WM maintenance can result in greater regulation of functional connectivity between prefrontal cortex and early visual areas. Together, these results provide new insights into top-down modulations of threatening representations in WM.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Working memory