Sustained and elevated activity during the working memory delay period has long been considered the primary neural correlate for maintaining information over short time intervals. This idea has recently been reinterpreted in light of findings generated from multiple neural recording modalities and levels of analysis. To further investigate the sustained or transient nature of activity, the temporal-spectral evolution (TSE) of delay period activity was examined in humans with high density EEG during performance of a Sternberg working memory paradigm with a relatively long six second delay and with novel scenes as stimuli. Multiple analyses were conducted using different trial window durations and different baseline periods for TSE computation. Sensor level analyses revealed transient rather than sustained activity during delay periods. Specifically, the consistent finding among the analyses was that high amplitude activity encompassing the theta range was found early in the first three seconds of the delay period. These increases in activity early in the delay period correlated positively with subsequent ability to distinguish new from old probe scenes. Source level signal estimation implicated a right parietal region of transient early delay activity that correlated positively with working memory ability. This pattern of results adds to recent evidence that transient rather than sustained delay period activity supports visual working memory performance. The findings are discussed in relation to synchronous and desynchronous intra- and inter-regional neural transmission, and choosing an optimal baseline for expressing temporal-spectral delay activity change.
Ellmore, Timothy M.; Ng, Kenneth; and Reichert, Chelsea P., "Early and late components of EEG delay activity correlate differently with scene working memory performance" (2017). CUNY Academic Works.