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TitleError-correcting dynamics in visual working memory.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsPanichello, MF, DePasquale, B, Pillow, JW, Buschman, TJ
JournalNat Commun
Date Published2019 Jul 29

Working memory is critical to cognition, decoupling behavior from the immediate world. Yet, it is imperfect; internal noise introduces errors into memory representations. Such errors have been shown to accumulate over time and increase with the number of items simultaneously held in working memory. Here, we show that discrete attractor dynamics mitigate the impact of noise on working memory. These dynamics pull memories towards a few stable representations in mnemonic space, inducing a bias in memory representations but reducing the effect of random diffusion. Model-based and model-free analyses of human and monkey behavior show that discrete attractor dynamics account for the distribution, bias, and precision of working memory reports. Furthermore, attractor dynamics are adaptive. They increase in strength as noise increases with memory load and experiments in humans show these dynamics adapt to the statistics of the environment, such that memories drift towards contextually-predicted values. Together, our results suggest attractor dynamics mitigate errors in working memory by counteracting noise and integrating contextual information into memories.

Alternate JournalNat Commun
PubMed ID31358740
PubMed Central IDPMC6662698
Grant ListN000141410681 / / United States Department of Defense | United States Navy | Office of Naval Research (ONR) /
CAREER IIS-1150186 / / National Science Foundation (NSF) /
SCGB AWD1004351 / / Simons Foundation /
R56 MH115042 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
R56MH115042 / / U.S. Department of Health & Human Services | NIH | National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) /