Top-down modulation of threatening representations in visual working memory

Symposium 2-5Time:15:00 - 16:30
Bo-Cheng Kuo
National Taiwan University, Taiwan,

Recent studies have shown that top-down attention biases relevant representations in visual working memory (WM) based on current task goals. Accumulating evidence has also revealed the effects of emotional arousal on attentional processing. However, it remains unclear whether top-down attention can regulate emotional memoranda in WM. Here we investigated the neural mechanisms of top-down modulation on threatening representations during WM maintenance with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG). Participants were instructed to remember a threatening object and a neutral object in a cued variant delayed response WM task. Retrospective cues (retro-cues) were presented to direct attention to the hemifield of a threatening object (i.e., cue-to-threat trials) or a neutral object (i.e., cue-to-neutral trials) during a retention interval prior to the probe test. The fMRI results (N=20) showed greater neural responses in visual areas and amygdala for cue-to-threat objects compared to cue-to-neutral ones and spatiotopic modulation of retro-cue-related activity in visual areas. Moreover, directing attention towards threatening compared to neutral representations during WM maintenance can result in greater regulation of functional connectivity between prefrontal and visual areas. The EEG results (N=18) showed greater magnitude of alpha lateralisation for cue-to-threat objects compared to cue-to-neutral ones. Importantly, we estimated the spatiotemporal pattern similarity in alpha activity for top-down modulations of threatening memoranda. The pattern similarity indexes were significantly higher for the posterior regions relative to the anterior regions and for the cue-to-threat objects relative to cue-to-neutral objects over the posterior regions. Together, these results provide new insights into top-down modulations of threatening representations in visual WM.

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 Important Dates

Submissions Open:
December 10, 2016

Symposia submissions due:
March 1, 2017

Abstract submissions due:
April 10, 2017

Authors will be notified of decisions by:
May 20-22, 2017

Registration open:
May 21, 2017

September 1-3, 2017