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Current and future goals are represented in opposite patterns in object-selective cortex

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Cite this article as: eLife 2018;7:e38677 doi: 10.7554/eLife.38677

Abstract

Adaptive behavior requires the separation of current from future goals in working memory. We used fMRI of object-selective cortex to determine the representational (dis)similarities of memory representations serving current and prospective perceptual tasks. Participants remembered an object drawn from three possible categories as the target for one of two consecutive visual search tasks. A cue indicated whether the target object should be looked for first (currently relevant), second (prospectively relevant), or if it could be forgotten (irrelevant). Prior to the first search, representations of current, prospective and irrelevant objects were similar, with strongest decoding for current representations compared to prospective (Experiment 1) and irrelevant (Experiment 2). Remarkably, during the first search, prospective representations could also be decoded, but revealed anti-correlated voxel patterns compared to currently relevant representations of the same category. We propose that the brain separates current from prospective memories within the same neuronal ensembles through opposite representational patterns.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Anouk Mariette van Loon

    Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
    For correspondence
    anouk.vanloon@gmail.com
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-9015-7647
  2. Katya Olmos-Solis

    Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Johannes Jacobus Fahrenfort

    Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-9025-3436
  4. Christian N L Olivers

    Department of Experimental and Applied Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands
    For correspondence
    c.n.l.olivers@vu.nl
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Funding

European Research Council (615423)

  • Christian N L Olivers

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.

Ethics

Human subjects: Human subjects: Twenty-four healthy volunteers participated in Experiment 1 and twenty-five healthy volunteers participated in Experiment 2. The experiment was approved by the Ethical Committee of the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, University of Amsterdam and conformed to the Declaration of Helsinki. All subjects provided written informed consent and consent to publish.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Floris de Lange, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Netherlands

Publication history

  1. Received: May 25, 2018
  2. Accepted: October 31, 2018
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: November 5, 2018 (version 1)
  4. Accepted Manuscript updated: November 6, 2018 (version 2)
  5. Version of Record published: December 4, 2018 (version 3)

Copyright

© 2018, van Loon et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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