This is the first of three papers that all lead to the same general conclusion:  Sensory (bottom-up) information is fed forward through cortex by gamma (>50 Hz) waves in superficial cortical layers. Executive (top-down) information is fed back through cortex by alpha/beta waves (4-22 Hz) in deep cortical layers. The beta waves in deep layers regulate superficial layer gamma in a push-pull fashion thereby allowing top-down information to control the flow of bottom-up sensory information. This allows volitional control over what we hold in mind.  Stayed tuned for the other two papers. They will appear in the next few weeks.

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. published ahead of print January 16, 2018, doi:10.1073/pnas.1710323115

Read MIT press release here.

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.