Poster Session C, Sunday, March 24, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
EEG reveals different mechanisms for cognitive control retention, based on trait working memory ability
Jacqueline R. Janowich1, James F. Cavanagh1; 1University of New Mexico
To cross a busy street, we use cognitive control not only to plan an action, but also to execute that action at the appropriate time in the future. However, it remains unknown how we retain control-demanding, abstract goal information for future use. Do we engage active maintenance processes as if holding the goal like a sensory item in working memory (WM), or do we employ goal-updating processes to efficiently activate the new goal state? In this study, we aimed to elucidate the electrophysiological mechanisms differentially elicited to retain visuo-spatial WM information vs. abstract rules. We developed a novel EEG paradigm in which participants (n=50) were tasked each trial to retain either a common rule, a rare, control-demanding rule, or a visuo-spatial WM stimulus. We applied LASSO classification to identify retention-period EEG activities that dissociated visuo-spatial stimuli (active maintenance) from common rules, and then applied those classification weights to determine if the processing of rare, control-demanding rules (i.e. goal-updating) differed significantly from active maintenance. Regression analysis demonstrated that individual differences in complex span (trait WM) score was significantly predictive of out-of-sample (transfer) classification of the control-demanding retention activity (p=.019). In participants with higher trait WM, control-demanding goals were processed more similarly to common goals than to visuo-spatial WM stimuli (goal-updating ~= WM). In participants with lower trait WM, control-demanding goals were processed like visuo-spatial WM stimuli (goal-updating == WM). In conclusion, electrophysiological activities underlying goal retention differ based on control demands, and vary based on individual WM abilities.
Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Goal maintenance & switching