Complementary Neural Mechanisms for Tracking Items in Human Working Memory

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Science  28 Jan 2000:
Vol. 287, Issue 5453, pp. 643-646
DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5453.643

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Recognition of a specific visual target among equally familiar distracters requires neural mechanisms for tracking items in working memory. Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging revealed evidence for two such mechanisms: (i) Enhanced neural responses, primarily in the frontal cortex, were associated with the target and were maintained across repetitions of the target. (ii) Reduced responses, primarily in the extrastriate visual cortex, were associated with stimulus repetition, regardless of whether the stimulus was a target or a distracter. These complementary neural mechanisms track the status of familiar items in working memory, allowing for the efficient recognition of a currently relevant object and rejection of irrelevant distracters.

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