Does the prefrontal cortex (PFC) maintain the contents of working memory or does it direct the focus of attention?  Lara and Wallis asked this question by training monkeys to perform a multi-color change detection task.  Few PFC neurons encoded the color of the stimuli.  Instead, the dominant signals were the spatial location of the item and the location of focal attention.  This suggests that the PFC is more involved in directing attention than retaining information in working memory.  Supporting this was increased power in alpha and theta power in the PFC, frequency bands associated with long-range neural communication.

About the Author

The Miller Lab uses experimental and theoretical approaches to study the neural basis of the high-level cognitive functions that underlie complex goal-directed behavior.