Contralateral delay activity tracks object identity information in visual short term memory

Zaifeng Gao, Xiaotian Xu, Zhibo Chen, Jun Yin, Mowei Shen, Rende Shui
Brain Research 2011 August 11, 1406: 30-42
Previous studies suggested that ERP component contralateral delay activity (CDA) tracks the number of objects containing identity information stored in visual short term memory (VSTM). Later MEG and fMRI studies implied that its neural source lays in superior IPS. However, since the memorized stimuli in previous studies were displayed in distinct spatial locations, hence possibly CDA tracks the object-location information instead. Moreover, a recent study implied the activation in superior IPS reflected the location load. The current research thus explored whether CDA tracks the object-location load or the object-identity load, and its neural sources. Participants were asked to remember one color, four identical colors or four distinct colors. The four-identical-color condition was the critical one because it contains the same amount of identity information as that of one color while the same amount of location information as that of four distinct colors. To ensure the participants indeed selected four colors in the four-identical-color condition, we also split the participants into two groups (low- vs. high-capacity), analyzed late positive component (LPC) in the prefrontal area, and collected participant's subjective-report. Our results revealed that most of the participants selected four identical colors. Moreover, regardless of capacity-group, there was no difference on CDA between one color and four identical colors yet both were lower than 4 distinct colors. Besides, the source of CDA was located in the superior parietal lobule, which is very close to the superior IPS. These results support the statement that CDA tracks the object identity information in VSTM.

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