Representations in Visual Cortex During Changing Memory and Sensory Demands
People often remember visual information over brief delays while actively engaging with ongoing inputs from the surrounding visual environment. Depending on the situation, one might prioritize mnemonic contents (i.e. remembering details of a past event), or preferentially attend sensory inputs (i.e. watching traffic while crossing a street). I’ll show that population-level response patterns in early visual cortex can represent the contents of working memory concurrently with passively viewed sensory inputs. On the other hand, trade-offs between memory and sensory representations emerge with changes in attentional priority. Collectively, as behavioral requirements change, memory representations change along with it. This flexibility allows the working memory system to achieve remarkable stability, with recall being only moderately affected by passive or active interference.