Multivariate patterns and long-range temporal correlations of alpha oscillations are associated with flexible manipulation of visual working memory representations

Golemme, Mara; Tatti, Elisa; Di Bernardi Luft, Caroline; Bhattacharya, Joydeep; Herrojo Ruiz, Maria and Cappelletti, Marinella. 2021. Multivariate patterns and long-range temporal correlations of alpha oscillations are associated with flexible manipulation of visual working memory representations. European Journal of Neuroscience, 54(9), pp. 7260-7273. ISSN 0953-816X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The ability to flexibly manipulate memory representations is embedded in visual working memory (VWM) and can be tested using paradigms with retrospective cues. While valid retrospective cues often facilitate memory recall, invalid ones may or may not result in performance costs. We investigated individual differences in utilising retrospective cues and evaluated how these individual differences are associated with brain oscillatory activity at rest.

At the behavioural level, we operationalised flexibility as the ability to make effective use of retrospective cues or disregard them if required. At the neural level, we tested whether individual differences in such flexibility were associated with properties of resting-state alpha oscillatory activity (8-12 Hz). To capture distinct aspects of these brain oscillations, we evaluated their power spectral density and temporal dynamics using long-range temporal correlations (LRTC). In addition, we performed multivariate patterns analysis (MVPA) to classify individuals' level of behavioural flexibility based on these neural measures. We observed that alpha power alone (magnitude) at rest was not associated with flexibility. However, we found that the participants’ ability to manipulate VWM representations was correlated with alpha LRTC and could be decoded using MVPA on patterns of alpha power. Our findings suggest that alpha LRTC and multivariate patterns of alpha power at rest may underlie some of the individual differences in using retrospective cues in working memory tasks.

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Maria Herrojo Ruiz and Marinella Cappelletti are equal senior authors.

This research was supported by a British Academy grant and a Fundação Bial grant. Maria Herrojo Ruiz was partially supported by the National Research University Higher School of Economics (Russian Federation). Mara Golemme was supported by the Graduate School of Goldsmiths, University of London.


Working Memory (WM); Electroencephalography (EEG); Alpha resting-state; Neuronal oscillations; Retro-cues.

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20 December 2018Submitted
27 September 2021Accepted
7 October 2021Published Online
9 November 2021Published

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Date Deposited:

30 Nov 2021 09:31

Last Modified:

07 Oct 2022 01:26


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