Press release for our new paper:
A heavy working memory load may sink brainwave ‘synch’

The paper:
Pinotsis, D.A., Buschman, T.J. and Miller, E.K. (2018) Working Memory Load Modulates Neuronal Coupling. Cerebral Cortex.  View PDF

Pinotsis, D.A., Buschman, T.J. and Miller, E.K. (2018) Working Memory Load Modulates Neuronal Coupling. Cerebral Cortex, 2018

Abstract: There is a severe limitation in the number of items that can be held in working memory. However, the neurophysiological limits remain unknown. We asked whether the capacity limit might be explained by differences in neuronal coupling. We developed a theoretical model based on Predictive Coding and used it to analyze Cross Spectral Density data from the prefrontal cortex (PFC), frontal eye fields (FEF), and lateral intraparietal area (LIP). Monkeys performed a change detection task. The number of objects that had to be remembered (memory load) was varied (1–3 objects in the same visual hemifield). Changes in memory load changed the connectivity in the PFC–FEF–LIP network. Feedback (top-down) coupling broke down when the number of objects exceeded cognitive capacity. Thus, impaired behavioral performance coincided with a break-down of Prediction signals. This provides new insights into the neuronal underpinnings of cognitive capacity and how coupling in a distributed working memory network is affected by memory load.

Freedman and Ibos give us a new general framework to think about the functions of the parietal cortex.

Freedman, D. J., & Ibos, G. (2018). An Integrative Framework for Sensory, Motor, and Cognitive Functions of the Posterior Parietal CortexNeuron97(6), 1219-1234.

Miller Lab alumnus Jonas Rose compares cognitive capacity across species.  Note that cognitive capacity correlates with intelligence but it is not the same thing.

Balakhonov, D., & Rose, J. (2017). Crows Rival Monkeys in Cognitive Capacity. Scientific reports, 7(1), 8809.

The effects of attention in the brain can be partitioned into changes in sensitivity of in the subject’s criterion.  In visual cortex, only changes in sensitivity are seen.  Here, Luo and Maunsell show that neurons in frontal cortex are sensitive to changes in sensitivity as well as criterion.

Luo, T. Z., & Maunsell, J. H. (2018). Attentional Changes in Either Criterion or Sensitivity Are Associated with Robust Modulations in Lateral Prefrontal Cortex. Neuron.

An article in Science News about new ideas on the role of brain waves.  It also discuss three new papers from the Miller Lab.

Brain waves may focus attention and keep information flowing  Science New March 13, 2018

Here are the papers that are discussed:

Lundqvist, M., Herman, P. Warden, M.R., Brincat, S.L., and Miller, E.K. (2018) Gamma and beta bursts during working memory read-out suggest roles in its volitional control. Nature Communications. 9, 394   View PDF

Wutz, A., Loonis, R., Roy, J.E., Donoghue, J.A., and Miller, E.K. (2018)  Different levels of category abstraction by different dynamics in different prefrontal areas. Neuron 97: 1-11.  View PDF

Bastos, A.M., Loonis, R., Kornblith, S., Lundqvist, M., and Miller, E.K. (2018)  Laminar recordings in frontal cortex suggest distinct layers for maintenance and control of working memory.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  View PDF

Alexander and Brown show how frontal lobe function can be explained by a hierarchical stack of a computational motif based on predictive coding.

Alexander, W. H., & Brown, J. W. (2018). Frontal cortex function as derived from hierarchical predictive coding. Scientific reports, 8(1), 3843.

Dopamine alters the neural oscillations associated with executive functions but leave sensory-related evoked potential unchanged.

Ott, T., Westendorff, S., & Nieder, A. (2018). Dopamine Receptors Influence Internally Generated Oscillations during Rule Processing in Primate Prefrontal Cortex. Journal of cognitive neuroscience, (Early Access), 1-15.

27 Feb 2018
February 27, 2018

Neuromodulation of Attention


A very nice review of how neuromodulation affects the mechanisms and circuits underlying attention.

Thiele, A., & Bellgrove, M. A. (2018). Neuromodulation of AttentionNeuron97(4), 769-785.

Martínez-Vázquez and Gail show different channels of influence in different frequency bands between frontal and parietal cortex.

Martínez-Vázquez, P., & Gail, A. (2018). Directed Interaction Between Monkey Premotor and Posterior Parietal Cortex During Motor-Goal Retrieval from Working Memory. Cerebral Cortex.