Persistent neural activity during the maintenance of spatial position in working memory

Riju Srimal, Clayton E. Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mechanism for the short-term maintenance of information involves persistent neural activity during the retention interval, which forms a bridge between the cued memoranda and its later contingent response. Here, we used event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify cortical areas with activity that persists throughout working memory delays with the goal of testing if such activity represents visuospatial attention or prospective saccade goals. We did so by comparing two spatial working memory tasks. During a memory-guided saccade (MGS) task, a location was maintained during a delay after which a saccade was generated to the remembered location. During a spatial item recognition (SIR) task identical to MGS until after the delay, a button press indicated whether a newly cued location matched the remembered location. Activity in frontal and parietal areas persisted above baseline and was greater in the hemisphere contralateral to the cued visual field. However, delay-period activity did not differ between the tasks. Notably, in the putative frontal eye field (FEF), delay period activity did not differ despite that the precise metrics of the memory-guided saccade were known during the MGS delay and saccades were never made in SIR. Persistent FEF activity may therefore represent a prioritized attentional map of space, rather than the metrics for saccades.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-468
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008


  • Attention
  • Frontal eye field
  • Saccade
  • Spatial
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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