What: Characterizing the neurocognitive architecture of non-conscious working memory
Where: BCBL Auditorium
Who: Darinka Trübutschek, PhD., Ecole des Neurosciences de Paris, France
When: 12:00 PM, noon
Our lives depend on our ability to hold information in mind for immediate use. Despite a rich history of research, cracking the neuro-cognitive code of working memory remains one of the most important challenges of neuroscience to date. According to the dominant view, maintaining information in working memory requires conscious, effortful activity sustained over the entire delay period. However, conscious, persistent delay-period activity might only reflect the tip-of-the-iceberg. In this talk, I will challenge these traditional models and present evidence from a series of behavioral and brain imaging studies showing that information in (multi-item) working memory may also be stored (and manipulated) non-consciously, through slowly decaying synaptic changes. Such an ‘activity-silent’ mechanism allows cell assemblies to go dormant (i.e., without sustained activity) during a delay period while allowing information to be retrieved after several seconds. I will then discuss whether these results can fit under a common functional architecture, and how this changes our conception of conscious/non-conscious processing and working memory.