Ghosts in the Machine II: Neural Correlates of Memory Interference from the Previous Trial

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Previous memoranda interfere with working memory. For example, spatial memories are biased toward locations memorized on the previous trial. We predicted, based on attractor network models of memory, that activity in the frontal eye fields (FEFs) encoding a previous target location can persist into the subsequent trial and that this ghost will then bias the readout of the current target. Contrary to this prediction, we find that FEF memory representations appear biased away from (not toward) the previous target location. The behavioral and neural data can be reconciled by a model in which receptive fields of memory neurons converge toward remembered locations, much as receptive fields converge toward attended locations. Convergence increases the resources available to encode the relevant memoranda and decreases overall error in the network, but the residual convergence from the previous trial can give rise to an attractive behavioral bias on the next trial.

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