Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Andrew Papanicolaou, PhD

Committee Member

Anthony Wright, PhD

Committee Member

Anne Sereno, PhD

Committee Member

Khader Hasan, PhD

Committee Member

Ponnada Narayana, PhD


Visual working memory (VWM) involves maintaining and processing visual information, often for the purpose of making immediate decisions. Neuroimaging experiments of VWM provide evidence in support of a neural system mainly involving a fronto-parietal neuronal network, but the role of specific brain areas is less clear. A proposal that has recently generated considerable debate suggests that a dissociation of object and location VWM occurs within the prefrontal cortex, in dorsal and ventral regions, respectively. However, re-examination of the relevant literature presents a more robust distribution suggestive of a general caudal-rostral dissociation from occipital and parietal structures, caudally, to prefrontal regions, rostrally, corresponding to location and object memory, respectively.

The purpose of the present study was to identify a dissociation of location and object VWM across two imaging methods (magnetoencephalography, MEG, and functional magnetic imaging, fMRI). These two techniques provide complimentary results due the high temporal resolution of MEG and the high spatial resolution of fMRI. The use of identical location and object change detection tasks was employed across techniques and reported for the first time. Moreover, this study is the first to use matched stimulus displays across location and object VWM conditions.

The results from these two imaging methods provided convergent evidence of a location and object VWM dissociation favoring a general caudal-rostral rather than the more common prefrontal dorsal-ventral view. Moreover, neural activity across techniques was correlated with behavioral performance for the first time and provided convergent results. This novel approach of combining imaging tools to study memory resulted in robust evidence suggesting a novel interpretation of location and object memory. Accordingly, this study presents a novel context within which to explore the neural substrates of WM across imaging techniques and populations.


fMRI, MEG, working memory, location, object identity, what vs where



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