Multiple component networks support working memory in prefrontal cortex

David A. Markowitz, Clayton E. Curtis, Bijan Pesaran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) is regarded as the hub of the brain's working memory (WM) system, but it remains unclear whether WM is supported by a single distributed network or multiple specialized network components in this region. To investigate this problem, we recorded from neurons in PFC while monkeys made delayed eye movements guided by memory or vision. We show that neuronal responses during these tasks map to three anatomically specific modes of persistent activity. The first two modes encode early and late forms of information storage, whereas the third mode encodes response preparation. Neurons that reflect these modes are concentrated at different anatomical locations in PFC and exhibit distinct patterns of coordinated firing rates and spike timing during WM, consistent with distinct networks. These findings support multiple component models of WM and consequently predict distinct failures that could contribute to neurologic dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11084-11089
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number35
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Coherence
  • Macaque
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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