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Poster E122

Tracking the neural signatures of visual and motor prioritisation in working memory through space and time

Poster Session E - Monday, April 15, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Irene Echeverria-Altuna1,2 (, Sage E.P. Boettcher1,2, Freek van Ede3, Kate E. Watkins1, Anna C. Nobre1,2,4; 1Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, 2Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity (OHBA), Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, University of Oxford, 3Institute for Brain and Behavior Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 4Wu Tsai Institute and Department of Psychology, Yale University

Visual representations and action plans within working memory can be flexibly and dynamically prioritised to guide adaptive behaviour. Such prioritisation is accompanied by modulations in electroencephalography (EEG) activity. Namely, lateralised posterior alpha-band attenuation tracks changes in internal attention to item locations, whereas lateralised central beta-band attenuation tracks changes in response-plan selection. Due to the limited spatial resolution of EEG, the subcortical-cortical networks controlling alpha and beta modulations during internal attention remain elusive. Here, we asked participants to perform an internal selective-attention task that independently modulated prioritisation of visual and motor representations while recording EEG in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner. Participants held two items (encoded on the left and right side of the screen) each linked to an action (left or right button press) in working memory. In half of the trials, an informative retrocue prompted participants to prioritise one visual item and its associated action plan in working memory. In the other half, retrocues were uninformative, so neither visual-spatial nor action selection was possible. The EEG analysis replicated patterns of contralateral alpha attenuation for spatial item selection and contralateral beta attenuation for motor selection. Analysis of concurrent fMRI data revealed the engagement of frontal and parietal areas (including the posterior inferior frontal cortex and right inferior parietal cortex) during internal spatial attention and of the corresponding sensorimotor hand representation during internal action selection. Together, these results reveal preliminary clues about the sources underlying the modulations of frequency-specific activity that accompany flexible sensory and motor prioritisation in working memory.

Topic Area: PERCEPTION & ACTION: Vision


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April 13–16  |  2024