Abstract

How does the human brain prioritize different visual representations in working memory (WM)? Here, we define the oscillatory mechanisms supporting selection of “where” and “when” features from visual WM storage and investigate the role of pFC in feature selection. Fourteen individuals with lateral pFC damage and 20 healthy controls performed a visuospatial WM task while EEG was recorded. On each trial, two shapes were presented sequentially in a top/bottom spatial orientation. A retro-cue presented mid-delay prompted which of the two shapes had been in either the top/bottom spatial position or first/second temporal position. We found that cross-frequency coupling between parieto-occipital alpha (α; 8–12 Hz) oscillations and topographically distributed gamma (γ; 30–50 Hz) activity tracked selection of the distinct cued feature in controls. This signature of feature selection was disrupted in patients with pFC lesions, despite intact α–γ coupling independent of feature selection. These findings reveal a pFC-dependent parieto-occipital α–γ mechanism for the rapid selection of visual WM representations.

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