Differential roles of delay-period neural activity in the monkey dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in visual-haptic crossmodal working memory

Liping Wang, Xianchun Li, Steven S. Hsiao, Fred A. Lenz, Mark Bodner, Yong Di Zhou, Joaquín M. Fuster, Tony Movshon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Previous studies have shown that neurons of monkey dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) integrate information across modalities and maintain it throughout the delay period of working-memory (WM) tasks. However, the mechanisms of this temporal integration in the DLPFC are still poorly understood. In the present study, to further elucidate the role of the DLPFC in crossmodal WM, we trained monkeys to perform visuo-haptic (VH) crossmodal and haptic-haptic (HH) unimodal WM tasks. The neuronal activity recorded in the DLPFC in the delay period of both tasks indicates that the early-delay differential activity probably is related to the encoding of sample information with different strengths depending on task modality, that the late-delay differential activity reflects the associated (modality-independent) action component of haptic choice in both tasks (that is, the anticipation of the behavioral choice and/or active recall and maintenance of sample information for subsequent action), and that the sustained whole-delay differential activity likely bridges and integrates the sensory and action components. In addition, the VH late-delay differential activity was significantly diminished when the haptic choice was not required. Taken together, the results show that, in addition to the whole-delay differential activity, DLPFC neurons also show early- and late-delay differential activities. These previously unidentified findings indicate that DLPFC is capable of (i) holding the coded sample information (e.g., visual or tactile information) in the early-delay activity, (ii) retrieving the abstract information (orientations) of the sample (whether the sample has been haptic or visual) and holding it in the late-delay activity, and (iii) preparing for behavioral choice acting on that abstract information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E214-E219
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 13 2015


  • Cross-modal working memory
  • Delay activity
  • Monkey
  • Prefrontal
  • Single unit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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