Decoding the Content of Auditory Sensory Memory across Species

Drew Cappotto, Ryszard Auksztulewicz, Hijee Kang, David Poeppel, Lucia Melloni, Jan Schnupp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In contrast to classical views of working memory (WM) maintenance, recent research investigating activity-silent neural states has demonstrated that persistent neural activity in sensory cortices is not necessary for active maintenance of information in WM. Previous studies in humans have measured putative memory representations indirectly, by decoding memory contents from neural activity evoked by a neutral impulse stimulus. However, it is unclear whether memory contents can also be decoded in different species and attentional conditions. Here, we employ a cross-species approach to test whether auditory memory contents can be decoded from electrophysiological signals recorded in different species. Awake human volunteers (N = 21) were exposed to auditory pure tone and noise burst stimuli during an auditory sensory memory task using electroencephalography. In a closely matching paradigm, anesthetized female rats (N = 5) were exposed to comparable stimuli while neural activity was recorded using electrocorticography from the auditory cortex. In both species, the acoustic frequency could be decoded from neural activity evoked by pure tones as well as neutral frozen noise burst stimuli. This finding demonstrates that memory contents can be decoded in different species and different states using homologous methods, suggesting that the mechanisms of sensory memory encoding are evolutionarily conserved across species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3226-3236
Number of pages11
JournalCerebral Cortex
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • auditory cortex
  • cross-species
  • echoic memory
  • memory encoding
  • multivariate analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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