Representation and computation in visual working memory

Paul M. Bays, Sebastian Schneegans, Wei Ji Ma, Timothy F. Brady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability to sustain internal representations of the sensory environment beyond immediate perception is a fundamental requirement of cognitive processing. In recent years, debates regarding the capacity and fidelity of the working memory (WM) system have advanced our understanding of the nature of these representations. In particular, there is growing recognition that WM representations are not merely imperfect copies of a perceived object or event. New experimental tools have revealed that observers possess richer information about the uncertainty in their memories and take advantage of environmental regularities to use limited memory resources optimally. Meanwhile, computational models of visuospatial WM formulated at different levels of implementation have converged on common principles relating capacity to variability and uncertainty. Here we review recent research on human WM from a computational perspective, including the neural mechanisms that support it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1016-1034
Number of pages19
JournalNature human behaviour
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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