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Journal Article

Decoding the contents of visual short-term memory from human visual and parietal cortex


Haynes,  John-Dylan
Bernstein Center for Computational Neuroscience, Berlin, Germany;
Berlin Center for Advanced Neuroimaging (BCAN), Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany;
NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany;
Berlin School of Mind and Brain, Humboldt University Berlin, Germany;
Max Planck Fellow Research Group Attention and Awareness, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Christophel, T. B., Hebart, M. N., & Haynes, J.-D. (2012). Decoding the contents of visual short-term memory from human visual and parietal cortex. The Journal of Neuroscience, 32(38), 12983-12989. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0184-12.2012.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-000E-B63F-9
How content is stored in the human brain during visual short-term memory (VSTM) is still an open question. Different theories postulate storage of remembered stimuli in prefrontal, parietal, or visual areas. Aiming at a distinction between these theories, we investigated the content-specificity of BOLD signals from various brain regions during a VSTM task using multivariate pattern classification. To participate in memory maintenance, candidate regions would need to have information about the different contents held in memory. We identified two brain regions where local patterns of fMRI signals represented the remembered content. Apart from the previously established storage in visual areas, we also discovered an area in the posterior parietal cortex where activity patterns allowed us to decode the specific stimuli held in memory. Our results demonstrate that storage in VSTM extends beyond visual areas, but no frontal regions were found. Thus, while frontal and parietal areas typically coactivate during VSTM, maintenance of content in the frontoparietal network might be limited to parietal cortex.