Capacity limit of visual short-term memory in human posterior parietal cortex.

Todd JJ, Marois R
Nature. 2004 428 (6984): 751-4

PMID: 15085133 · DOI:10.1038/nature02466

At any instant, our visual system allows us to perceive a rich and detailed visual world. Yet our internal, explicit representation of this visual world is extremely sparse: we can only hold in mind a minute fraction of the visual scene. These mental representations are stored in visual short-term memory (VSTM). Even though VSTM is essential for the execution of a wide array of perceptual and cognitive functions, and is supported by an extensive network of brain regions, its storage capacity is severely limited. With the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging, we show here that this capacity limit is neurally reflected in one node of this network: activity in the posterior parietal cortex is tightly correlated with the limited amount of scene information that can be stored in VSTM. These results suggest that the posterior parietal cortex is a key neural locus of our impoverished mental representation of the visual world.

MeSH Terms (10)

Adult Brain Mapping Female Humans Magnetic Resonance Imaging Male Memory Parietal Lobe Visual Cortex Visual Perception

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