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What did we learn?

  • 1) Working memory is a cognitive function that is central to most of our cognitive abilities. It enables the connection between sensory stimuli and future actions by maintaining and manipulating information over delay periods of a few seconds.
  • 2) Neuroimaging studies show that working memory depends on a system of neuronal networks in the parietal and prefrontal cortex
  • 3) Electrophysiological experiments on behaving monkeys have identified neurons in these cortical areas that maintain an elevated discharge rate which is selective to the identity of the stimulus while it is being maintained in working memory   (persistent activity)
  • 4) These experimental data have motivated a computational model (attractor model) of the biological neuronal network that can reproduce the electrophysiological and behavioral results.
  • 5) The physiological basis of this computational model is the excitatory recurrency between neurons of the network, which enables a transient stimulus to remain reverberating within the network for a period of a few seconds.
  • 6) In the model, the balance between excitation and inhibition in the neuronal network is important to maintain a functioning regime consistent with working memory.

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