Topographic contribution of early visual cortex to short-term memory consolidation: a transcranial magnetic stimulation study

V.G. van de Ven*, C. Jacobs, A.T. Sack

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The neural correlates for retention of visual information in visual short-term memory are considered separate from those of sensory encoding. However, recent findings suggest that sensory areas may play a role also in short-term memory. We investigated the functional relevance, spatial specificity, and temporal characteristics of human early visual cortex in the consolidation of capacity-limited topographic visual memory using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Topographically specific TMS pulses were delivered over lateralized occipital cortex at 100, 200, or 400 ms into the retention phase of a modified change detection task with low or high memory loads. For the high but not the low memory load, we found decreased memory performance for memory trials in the visual field contralateral, but not ipsilateral to the side of TMS, when pulses were delivered at 200 ms into the retention interval. A behavioral version of the TMS experiment, in which a distractor stimulus (memory mask) replaced the TMS pulses, further corroborated these findings. Our findings suggest that retinotopic visual cortex contributes to the short-term consolidation of topographic visual memory during early stages of the retention of visual information. Further, TMS-induced interference decreased the strength (amplitude) of the memory representation, which most strongly affected the high memory load trials.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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