ABSTRACT: Although areas of frontal cortex are thought to be critical for maintaining information in visuospatial working memory, the event-related potential (ERP) index of maintenance is found over posterior cortex in humans. In the present study, we reconcile these seemingly contradictory findings. Here, we show that macaque monkeys and humans exhibit the same posterior ERP signature of working memory maintenance that predicts the precision of the memory-based behavioral responses. In addition, we show that the specific pattern of rhythmic oscillations in the alpha band, recently demonstrated to underlie the human visual working memory ERP component, is also present in monkeys. Next, we concurrently recorded intracranial local field potentials from two prefrontal and another frontal cortical area to determine their contribution to the surface potential indexing maintenance. The local fields in the two prefrontal areas, but not the cortex immediately posterior, exhibited amplitude modulations, timing, and relationships to behavior indicating that they contribute to the generation of the surface ERP component measured from the distal posterior electrodes. Rhythmic neural activity in the theta and gamma bands during maintenance provided converging support for the engagement of the same brain regions. These findings demonstrate that nonhuman primates have homologous electrophysiological signatures of visuospatial working memory to those of humans and that a distributed neural network, including frontal areas, underlies the posterior ERP index of visuospatial working memory maintenance.
Journal of Neuroscience 05/2012; 32(22):7711-22. · 7.11 Impact Factor