Items held in visual working memory can be quickly updated, replaced, removed, and even manipulated in accordance with current behavioral goals. Here, we use multivariate pattern analyses to identify the patterns of neuronal activity that realize the executive control processes supervising these flexible stores. We find that portions of the middle temporal gyrus and the intraparietal sulcus represent what item is cued for continued memorization independently of representations of the item itself. Importantly, this selection-specific activity could not be explained by sensory representations of the cue and is only present when control is exerted. Our results suggest that the selection of memorized items might be controlled in a distributed and decentralized fashion. This evidence provides an alternative perspective to the notion of “domain general” central executive control over memory function.

You do not currently have access to this content.