Working memory load improves early stages of independent visual processing

Cocchi, Luca, Toepel, Ulrike, De Lucia, Marzia, Martuzzi, Roberto, Wood, Stephen J., Carter, Olivia and Murray, Micah M. (2011) Working memory load improves early stages of independent visual processing. Neuropsychologia, 49 1: 92-102. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.10.021

Author Cocchi, Luca
Toepel, Ulrike
De Lucia, Marzia
Martuzzi, Roberto
Wood, Stephen J.
Carter, Olivia
Murray, Micah M.
Title Working memory load improves early stages of independent visual processing
Journal name Neuropsychologia   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0028-3932
Publication date 2011-01-01
Year available 2010
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.10.021
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 49
Issue 1
Start page 92
End page 102
Total pages 11
Place of publication Kidlington, United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon
Language eng
Abstract Increasing evidence suggests that working memory and perceptual processes are dynamically interrelated due to odulating activity in overlapping brain networks. However, the direct influence of working memory on the spatio-temporal brain dynamics of behaviorally relevant intervening information remains unclear. To investigate this issue, subjects performed a visual proximity grid perception task under three different visual–spatial working memory (VSWM) load conditions. VSWM load was manipulated by asking subjects to memorize the spatial locations of 6 or 3 disks. The grid was always presented between the encoding and recognition of the disk pattern. As a baseline condition, grid stimuli were presented without a VSWM context. VSWM load altered both perceptual performance and neural networks active during intervening grid encoding. Participants performed faster and more accurately on a challenging perceptual task under high VSWM load as compared to the low load and the baseline condition. Visual evoked potential (VEP) analyses identified changes in the configuration of the underlying sources in one particular period occurring 160–190mspost- stimulus onset. Source analyses further showed an occipitoparietal down-regulation concurrent to the increased involvement of temporal and frontal resources in the high VSWM context. Together, these data suggest that cognitive control mechanisms supporting working memory may selectively enhance concurrent visual processing related to an independent goal. More broadly, our findings are in line with theoretical models implicating the engagement of frontal regions in synchronizing and optimizing mnemonic and perceptual resources towards multiple goals.
Keyword Perception
Working memory
Cognitive control
Dual task
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Grant ID PBLAB-119622
Institutional Status Non-UQ
Additional Notes Available online 23 October 2010

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Non HERDC
Queensland Brain Institute Publications
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