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Neural activity in the hippocampus predicts individual visual short-term memory capacity


von Allmen, David Yoh; Wurmitzer, Karoline; Martin, Ernst; Klaver, Peter (2013). Neural activity in the hippocampus predicts individual visual short-term memory capacity. Hippocampus, 23(7):606-615.

Abstract

Although the hippocampus had been traditionally thought to be exclusively involved in long-term memory, recent studies raised controversial explanations why hippocampal activity emerged during short-term memory tasks. For example, it has been argued that long-term memory processes might contribute to performance within a short-term memory paradigm when memory capacity has been exceeded. It is still unclear, though, whether neural activity in the hippocampus predicts visual short-term memory (VSTM) performance. To investigate this question, we measured BOLD activity in 21 healthy adults (age range 19–27 yr, nine males) while they performed a match-to-sample task requiring processing of object-location associations (delay period = 900 ms; set size conditions 1, 2, 4, and 6). Based on individual memory capacity (estimated by Cowan's K-formula), two performance groups were formed (high and low performers). Within whole brain analyses, we found a robust main effect of “set size” in the posterior parietal cortex (PPC). In line with a “set size × group” interaction in the hippocampus, a subsequent Finite Impulse Response (FIR) analysis revealed divergent hippocampal activation patterns between performance groups: Low performers (mean capacity = 3.63) elicited increased neural activity at set size two, followed by a drop in activity at set sizes four and six, whereas high performers (mean capacity = 5.19) showed an incremental activity increase with larger set size (maximal activation at set size six). Our data demonstrated that performance-related neural activity in the hippocampus emerged below capacity limit. In conclusion, we suggest that hippocampal activity reflected successful processing of object-location associations in VSTM. Neural activity in the PPC might have been involved in attentional updating.

Abstract

Although the hippocampus had been traditionally thought to be exclusively involved in long-term memory, recent studies raised controversial explanations why hippocampal activity emerged during short-term memory tasks. For example, it has been argued that long-term memory processes might contribute to performance within a short-term memory paradigm when memory capacity has been exceeded. It is still unclear, though, whether neural activity in the hippocampus predicts visual short-term memory (VSTM) performance. To investigate this question, we measured BOLD activity in 21 healthy adults (age range 19–27 yr, nine males) while they performed a match-to-sample task requiring processing of object-location associations (delay period = 900 ms; set size conditions 1, 2, 4, and 6). Based on individual memory capacity (estimated by Cowan's K-formula), two performance groups were formed (high and low performers). Within whole brain analyses, we found a robust main effect of “set size” in the posterior parietal cortex (PPC). In line with a “set size × group” interaction in the hippocampus, a subsequent Finite Impulse Response (FIR) analysis revealed divergent hippocampal activation patterns between performance groups: Low performers (mean capacity = 3.63) elicited increased neural activity at set size two, followed by a drop in activity at set sizes four and six, whereas high performers (mean capacity = 5.19) showed an incremental activity increase with larger set size (maximal activation at set size six). Our data demonstrated that performance-related neural activity in the hippocampus emerged below capacity limit. In conclusion, we suggest that hippocampal activity reflected successful processing of object-location associations in VSTM. Neural activity in the PPC might have been involved in attentional updating.

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11 citations in Web of Science®
11 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Children's Hospital Zurich > Medical Clinic
04 Faculty of Medicine > Neuroscience Center Zurich
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
150 Psychology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:20 March 2013
Deposited On:25 Apr 2013 09:20
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:44
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:1050-9631
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/hipo.22121
PubMed ID:23519991

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