An event-related brain potential correlate of visual short-term memory

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EVENT-RELATED potentials (ERPs) were recorded as 12 subjects performed a delayed matching to sample task. We presented two bilateral abstract shapes and cued spatially which had to be memorized for a subsequent matching task: left, right or both. During memorization a posterior slow negative ERP wave developed over the hemisphere contralateral to the memorized shape. This effect was similar in high and low memory load trials while the memory figures were visible (for 1000 ms). As the figures disappeared (for 1500 ms), the effect persisted only in the low memory load conditions. We suggest that the contralateral negativity reflects a visual short-term memory process and that capacity limitation in the high memory load condition causes this process to collapse.

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