We trained monkeys to compare the frequencies of two mechanical vibrations applied sequentially to the tip of a finger and to report which of the two stimuli had the higher frequency. This task requires remembering the first frequency during the delay period between the two stimuli. Recordings were made from neurons in the inferior convexity of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) while the monkeys performed the task. We report neurons that fire persistently during the delay period, with a firing rate that is a monotonic function of the frequency of the first stimulus. Separately from, and in addition to, their correlation with the first stimulus, the delay period firing rates of these neurons were correlated with the behavior of the monkey, in a manner consistent with their interpretation as the neural substrate of working memory during the task. Most neurons had firing rates that varied systematically with time during the delay period. We suggest that this time-dependent activity may encode time itself and may be an intrinsic part of active memory maintenance mechanisms.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience