A ventral stream-prefrontal cortex processing cascade enables working memory gating dynamics

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


The representation of incoming information, goals and the flexible processing of these are required for cognitive control. Efficient mechanisms are needed to decide when it is important that novel information enters working memory (WM) and when these WM 'gates' have to be closed. Compared to neural foundations of maintaining information in WM, considerably less is known about what neural mechanisms underlie the representational dynamics during WM gating. Using different EEG analysis methods, we trace the path of mental representations along the human cortex during WM gate opening and closing. We show temporally nested representational dynamics during WM gate opening and closing depending on multiple independent neural activity profiles. These activity profiles are attributable to a ventral stream-prefrontal cortex processing cascade. The representational dynamics start in the ventral stream during WM gate opening and WM gate closing before prefrontal cortical regions are modulated. A regional specific activity profile is shown within the prefrontal cortex depending on whether WM gates are opened or closed, matching overarching concepts of prefrontal cortex functions. The study closes an essential conceptual gap detailing the neural dynamics underlying how mental representations drive the WM gate to open or close to enable WM functions such as updating and maintenance.


Original languageEnglish
Article number1086
JournalCommunications biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2022

External IDs

Scopus 85139766395
unpaywall 10.1038/s42003-022-04048-7
ORCID /0000-0002-7023-0923/work/142242018
ORCID /0000-0002-2989-9561/work/146788746