May 9, 2021

Neural evidence for categorical biases in working memory for location and orientation

Previous research demonstrated that visual working memory exhibits biases with respect to the categorical structure of the stimulus space. However, a majority of those studies used behavioral measures of working memory, and it is not clear whether the working memory representations per se are influenced by the categorical structure or whether the biases arise in decision or response processes during the report. Here, I applied a multivariate decoding technique to EEG data collected during working memory tasks to determine whether neural activity associated with the working memory representation is categorically biased prior to the report. I found that the decoding of spatial working memory was biased away from the nearest cardinal location, consistent with the biases observed in the behavioral responses. In a follow-up experiment which was designed to prevent the use of a response preparation strategy, I found that the decoding still exhibited categorical biases. Together, these results provide neural evidence that working memory representations themselves are categorically biased, imposing important constraints on the computational models of working memory representations.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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