Working Memory 2.0
Seminar | March 22 | 12-1 p.m. | 125 Li Ka Shing Center
Earl K. Miller, Picower Professor of Neuroscience, MIT
Working memory is the fundamental function by which we break free from reflexive input-output reactions to gain control over our own thoughts. It has two types of mechanisms: online maintenance of information and its volitional or executive control. Classic models proposed persistent spiking for maintenance but have not explicitly addressed executive control. I will review recent theoretical and empirical studies that suggest updates/additions to the classic model. Synaptic weight changes between sparse bursts of spiking strengthen working memory maintenance. Executive control acts via interplay between network oscillations in gamma (30-100 Hz) in superficial cortical layers (layers 2 & 3) and alpha/beta (10-30 Hz) in deep cortical layers (layers 5 & 6). Deep-layer alpha/beta is associated with top-down information and inhibition. It regulates the flow of bottom-up sensory information associated with superficial layer gamma. We propose that interactions between different rhythms in distinct cortical layers underlie working memory maintenance and its volitional control.
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