Scientific Understanding of Consciousness
Consciousness as an Emergent Property of Thalamocortical Activity

Working Memory

Working memory is a dynamically-changing, momentary network-assembly of neurons, principally in the frontal cortex, that interact with most other modular areas of the brain to perform the higher levels of sensory processing, to arrive at decisions, and to produce commands for movement. Working memory is an intimately related part of the ongoing neural activity of the thalamocortical system related to attention, the dynamic core, and consciousness. The memory function of working memory may be located in the widely distributed synapses in the brain, with principally attention and memory-integrative functions in the frontal cortex and attention regulation with the thalamus.

At the heart of a consciousness mechanism lies a capacity for the temporary storage and manipulation of information, which is the hallmark of working memory. (Baddeley; Working Memory, 315)

Working memory (in prefrontal,    parietal,    and inferior temporal cortex) is apparently associated with the activation of selected brain regions; and within these regions, there appears to be an additional selection of some neurons that fire at high rates. (Traub; Cortical Oscillations, 56)

At any moment during an animal's life, only a small fraction of neurons will be strongly activated by natural stimuli. (Arbib, Handbook of Brain Theory; Foldiak; Sparse Coding, 897)

Extended consciousness requires working memory and explicit long-term memory (including both semantic and episodic memories). (Laureys, Neurology of Consciousness; Damasio & Meyer; Consciousness Overview, 9)

Working memory is the ad hoc temporary retention of an updated long-term memory for prospective action. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 380)

Working memory is active by reverberation through reentrant circuits. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 380)

Unitary view of memory with a common cortical substrate -- working memory is a temporary activation of updated long-term memory networks for orchestrating actions in the near term. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 4)

Although working memory expands the timeframe of consciousness, it is not obvious that it is essential for consciousness. (Baars, Essential Sources in Scientific Consciousness 68; Crick & Koch; Consciousness and Neuroscience, 38)

We lead our daily life through myriad minor decisions that are determined by habit and the expectation of immediate fulfillment. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 190)


I have a Working Memory Model (Covington) based on Baddeley’s Working Memory Model (paraphrased below) together with Damasio’s Convergence-Divergence Zones architecture, Cowan’s model of attention and memory, as well as several other aspects of neural network modeling.


Research Study — Brain Regions Involved in Decision-Making

Research Study — Nucleus Accumbens Controls Risky Decision-Making

Research Study — Attention Shifts and Latent Working Memories


Consciousness serves as a mental workspace, a very powerful mechanism for registering the environment and relating it to past experience, which can in turn be used to model the present, and using that model, to simulate and hence to predict the future and plan further action. (Baddeley; Working Memory, 314)

Working memory model that includes the emotional factors (diagram) (Baddeley; Working Memory, 294)


Baddeley’s Working Memory Model

At the heart of a consciousness mechanism lies a capacity for the temporary storage and manipulation of information, which is the hallmark of working memory. (Baddeley; Working Memory, 315)

Working memory, a concept of short-term memory, is essentially a temporary storage used in performance of cognitive behavioral tasks. (Fuster; Memory in Cerebral Cortex, 14)

Working memory (WM) is a construct that encompasses our ability to temporarily maintain and manipulate information that is no longer accessible in the environment for a brief period of time in order to guide subsequent behavior. (Osaka, Working Memory; Gazzaley; Top-down WM, 197)

Short-term retention of information in working memory is supported by sustained activity in cortical regions whose primary function is not working memory. (Osaka, Working Memory; Postle; Activated Long-Term Memory, 344)

Working memory depends on sustained activation of portions of long-term memory, which must be construed in a broad sense. Perceiving, recognizing, understanding, and rehearsing are all abilities that result from continual refinements involving long-term memory. (Postle; Activated Long-Term Memory, 333)

Attention and working memory are closely intertwined, making it difficult to cleanly separate them. The more working memory is taxed, the less effective attention is at disregarding distractors. (Koch; Quest for Consciousness, 197)

Working memory appears to  go hand-in-hand with consciousness. (Koch; Quest for Consciousness, 199


Baddeley’s multicomponent working memory model assumes a four component system, comprising (1) an attentional controller, the central executive,    and three temporary storage systems:   (2) the visuospatial's sketch pad,    (3) the phonological loop,    and (4) a more general integrated storage system, the episodic buffer. (Baddeley; Working Memory, 13)

 Central Executive

Neural processing will only become conscious if it is amplified and maintained over some minimal period of time. Within the working memory model, this could be regarded as utilizing the central executive to ensure storage in the episodic buffer. (Baddeley; Working Memory, 314)

Central executive is an attentional controller that coordinates information held by the phonological loop and the visuospacial sketchpad. (Osaka, Working Memory; Martin; Cognitive Neuropsychology, Working Memory, 183)

Central executive of working memory controls access to the phonological loop, visual buffer, temporary storage for other modalities, via a sort of attentional selection process. (Koch; Quest for Consciousness, 197)

Neuroimaging studies have suggested that the executive attentional control system is located in the prefrontal cortex, predominantly in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). (Osaka, Working Memory; Neural Bases of Focusing Attention, 100)

Visuospatial Sketchpad

 Visuospatial sketchpad as the seat of phenomenological experience of visual imagery, and the central executive as the attentional controller. (Baddeley; Working Memory, 315)

One short-term memory system is in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, Brodmann area 46. This is involved in remembering the locations of spatial responses. (Rolls & Treves; Neural Networks, 246)

Try this: What is your way of visualizing the month-display of a calendar? Relationship of Wednesday to Saturday (with the days in between)? Relationship of Tuesday of this week to Friday of next week?

 Phonological Loop

The Phonological Loop includes the functionality of Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area.

Another short-term memory system is human auditory-verbal short-term memory, which appears to be implemented in the left hemisphere at the junction of the temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes. (Rolls & Treves; Neural Networks, 247)

Phonological loop component of working memory was originally developed to account for four memory phenomena -- (1) word length effect, (2) acoustic confusion effect, (3) irrelevant speech effect, (4) concurrent articulations effect. (Osaka, Working Memory; Neath; Working Memory Phonological Loop, 165)

Phrasal scope of planning -- subjects must activate and maintain all of the lexical-semantic representations in a phrase in a lexical-semantic buffer prior to the initiation of the utterance. (Osaka, Working Memory; Martin; Cognitive Neuropsychology, Working Memory, 186)

Shared semantic buffer involved in both comprehension and production. (Osaka, Working Memory; Martin; Cognitive Neuropsychology, Working Memory, 186)

Dissociable phonological and semantic short-term memory buffers. (Osaka, Working Memory; Martin; Cognitive Neuropsychology, Working Memory, 193)

Episodic Buffer

Working memory includes an episodic buffer, a multidimensional storage device actively controlled by the executive. (Baddeley; Working Memory, 315)

Episodic buffer is assumed to be the basis of conscious awareness. (Baddeley; Working Memory, 148)

Episodic buffer is a limited capacity temporary storage system that integrates information from a number of sources across space and time. (Osaka, Working Memory; Martin; Cognitive Neuropsychology, Working Memory, 184)

The Episodic Buffer likely uses some of the same neural circuitry as the Episodic Memory.

Episodic memory, the long term recall of sequences of events or narratives, depends on interactions between the hippocampus and the cerebral cortex. (Edelman; Wider than the Sky, 51)



Working Memory and Subjective Nature of Consciousness

Working memory is the gateway to subjective experiences, emotional and nonemotional ones, and is indispensable in the creation of a conscious emotional feeling. (LeDoux; Emotional Brain, 296)

Working memory is an essential aspect of (human-type) consciousness, but the subjective nature of consciousness is not completely explained by the computational processes of working memory. Feelings come about when the activity of specialized emotion systems gets represented in the system that gives rise to consciousness; working memory. (LeDoux; Emotional Brain, 281-282)

Amygdala has projections to many cortical areas. Projections of the amygdala to the cortex are considerably greater than the projections from the cortex to the amygdala. Orbital cortex may be especially involved in working memories about rewards and punishments. By connections with short-term buffers and long-term memory networks, together with the networks of the frontal lobe, the amygdala can influence the information content of working memory. (LeDoux; Emotional Brain, 284-285)

Working Memory and Attention

Close relationship between working memory and attention. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 349)

Top-down attentional amplification  is the mechanism by which modular processes can be temporarily mobilized and made available to the  global workspace, and therefore to consciousness. (Baddeley; Working Memory, 314)

Working memory is indeed a form of attention -- sustained attention focused on an executive cognitive network for the processing of perspective action. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 349)

Working memory consists largely of updated long-term memory; working memory can be legitimately called active memory. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 349)

Attention involves some form of short term memory. Global unity of shape, color, movement, location, etc, may be expressed by the correlated firing of the neurons involved. Neurons that respond to the properties of a particular object fire in synchrony. Other active neurons do not fire in synchrony. (Crick; Astonishing Hypothesis, 22)


Nelson Cowan has a model of Attention and Memory.


Short-Term Memory Uses the Same Neural Substrate As Long-Term Memory

Animal experiments have showed the gradual consolidation of memory as a single store along a temporal continuum.  There is no need for two distinct kinds of memory stores (short- and long-term) with a sharp boundary or temporal transitions between them. (Fuster; Cortex and Mind, 119)

Evidence for the consolidation of memory in one store implicates the entire cerebral cortex and synaptic change in cortical networks as the essence of consolidation. (Fuster; Cortex and Mind, 121)

Short-term retention (STR) of information during working memory tasks is accomplished via sustained activity in brain regions whose primary function is not working memory (nor short-term memory). Rather, the STR brain areas are the very same as those active for the 'primary' processing of the information. (Osaka, Working Memory; Postle; Activated Long-Term Memory, 333)

My current hypothesis uses the Baddeley model of working memory as modified by the Bradley R. Postle concept of  Activated Long-Term Memory -- Working Memory, widely distributed in both the frontal cortex and the posterior cortices.

Dispositions, Short-Term Memory, Long-Term Memory

Dispositions are a space-saving mechanism for information storage. (Damasio; Self Comes to Mind, 140)

The locus where memory records would actually be played back would not be that different from the locus of original perception. (Damasio; Self Comes to Mind, 141)

Multiple Short-Term Memory Systems

The functional architecture of short-term memory has not been  resolved in a consensus of the experts.  Here is a hypothesis for multiple short-term memory systems.

There are a number of different short-term memory systems, each implemented in a different cortical area. (Rolls & Deco; Noisy Brain, 91)

The short-term memories may operate as autoassociative attractor networks. (Rolls & Deco; Noisy Brain, 91)

For short-term memory to the maintained during periods in which new stimuli are to be perceived, there must be separate networks for perceptual and short-term memory functions. (Rolls & Deco; Noisy Brain, 94)

Two coupled networks, one in the inferior temporal visual cortex for perceptual functions, and another in the prefrontal cortex for maintaining the short-term memory during intervening stimuli, provide a precise model of the interaction of perceptual and short-term memory systems. (Rolls & Deco; Noisy Brain, 94)

Computer simulation shows that the operation of the prefrontal cortex in short-term memory and its relation to posterior perceptual networks, can be understood by the interaction of two weakly coupled attractor networks. (Rolls & Deco; Noisy Brain, 97)

Active Memory and Working Memory

Working memory can be defined as an ad hoc memorization of a discrete item of information for a motor or cognitive act to be performed in the short term. (Fuster; Memory in Cerebral Cortex, 238)

Working memory has been construed as one kind of short-term memory. (Fuster; Memory in Cerebral Cortex, 238)

Active memory, which made not have a behavioral purpose, subsumes and transcends working memory. (Fuster; Memory in Cerebral Cortex, 238)

Consciousness is the awareness of what is in working memory. To be aware of something, that something must be in working memory. Prefrontal areas may not store anything but instead just control the activity of other regions, allowing activity in some areas to rise above the threshold for consciousness and inhibiting the activity of others. Contents of working memory are what we are conscious of at the moment. (LeDoux; Emotional Brain, 278-279)

Most active memory consists of reactivated long-term memory; it is experienced as an expansion of the present, the "remembered present" (Edelman)  (Fuster; Memory in Cerebral Cortex, 293)

Consciousness is an outcome of a recursively comparative memory in which previous self-nonself categorizations (Remembered) are continually related to ongoing present perceptual categorizations (Present) and their short-term succession. (Edelman; Remembered Present, 155)

Executive Functions of Working Memory

Working memory is more than just an area for temporary storage. Thinking involves juggling of mental items - comparing, contrasting, judging, predicting. Executive functions of working memory. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 177)

The representational substrate of the prefrontal cortex, in particular its lateral sector, is made of networks of executive memory, which extend into other cortical areas and have been formed by prior experience. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 3)

Working memory is essentially sustained attention focused on an internal representation. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 4)

Working memory is one of the brain's most sophisticated capacities and is involved in all aspects of thinking and problem-solving. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 175)

Working memory is the mental function that holds multiple connections together as we think a thought or perform an act from beginning to end. (Ratey; User's Guide to Brain, 196)

Central Executive of working memory focuses the dynamic core for attention.

Working memory, the dynamic core, and the thalamocortical system are intimately related as the mediators of consciousness.

Prefrontal Cortex and Working MemoryEichenbaum explains that while the entire cerebral cortex is involved in memory processing, the chief brain area that mediates these processes is the prefrontal cortex.


Frontal Lobes and Working Memory

Frontal lobes are involved in executive functions (planning, problem-solving, behavioral control), as well as in short-term or temporary memory. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 179)

Frontal lobes account for about one-third of the mass of the human brain. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 179)

Working memory region: lateral prefrontal cortex, medial prefrontal cortex (especially the anterior cingulate region), and the ventral prefrontal cortex (especially the orbital region). (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 198)

Conscious awareness appears to be closely related to executive control, and hints to the operation of working memory. (Baddeley; Working Memory, 302)

Consciousness and working memory. (Baddeley; Working Memory, 314)

Cortical areas in the frontal lobe are involved with impulse control, decision-making and judgment, language, memory, problem solving, sexual behavior, socialization, and spontaneity. (Gazzaniga; Human, 23)

Frontal lobe is the location of the brain's "executive," which plans, controls, and coordinates behavior and also controls voluntary movements of specific body parts, especially the hands. (Gazzaniga; Human, 23)

Cortical areas in the parietal lobe are involved with integrating sensory information from various parts of the body, with visual-spatial processing, and with the manipulation of objects. (Gazzaniga; Human, 23)

Reentrant circuitry with slow-acting NMDA receptors for persistent working memory activity. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 252)


Link to — Movement Planning in Dorsal Premotor Cortex


Decision Making

Decision-making compresses trial-and-error learning experiences into a real-time evaluation of the consequences of a particular action. It requires on-line integration of information from diverse sources: perceptual information about the stimulus, facts stored in memory, feedback from emotional systems, expectations about the consequences of different courses of action. This integrative processing is the business of working memory in the prefrontal cortex. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 252)

A sophisticated mathematical analysis suggests that parietal neurons participate in decision-making. Basically, populations of neurons make decisions in a manner similar to the way that economists approach the behavior of populations of people: Cell assemblies are able to integrate information about the reward that can expected, given what has been experienced in the past. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 252)

Noise inherent in brain activity has a number of advantages by making the dynamics stochastic, which allows for many remarkable features of the brain, including creativity,    probabilistic decision making,    stochastic resonance, unpredictability, conflict resolution, symmetry breaking, allocation to discrete categories, and many of the important memory properties. (Rolls & Deco; Noisy Brain, 80)

Pure reason is not enough to make a decision.  Reason makes the list of options, but emotion makes the choice. Emotions play a part in all decisions. (Gazzaniga; Human, 55)

Because motivated reasoning is unconscious,    people's claims that they are unaffected by bias or self-interest    can be sincere,    even as they make decisions that are in reality self-serving. (Mlodinow; Subliminal, 205)


Research study — Decision-Making in Frontal Lobes

Research study — Decision-Making, ACC and vmPFC


Working Memory Functionality

Lateral Prefrontal Cortex Circuit

Brodmann Area 10 in the lateral prefrontal cortex is involved with memory and planning, cognitive flexibility, abstract thinking, initiating appropriate behavior and inhibiting inappropriate behavior, learning rules, and picking out relevant information from what is perceived through the senses. (Gazzaniga; Human, 20)

Lateral prefrontal cortex is densely interconnected with other regions that are larger in human brains -- the posterior parietal cortex and the temporal lobe cortex -- and outside the neocortex, it is connected to several cell groups in the dorsal thalamus that are also disproportionately enlarged, the medial dorsal nucleus and pulvinar. (Gazzaniga; Human, 21)

What has enlarged in human evolution is not a random group of areas and nuclei, but an entire circuit. The lateral prefrontal cortex circuit has made humans more flexible and capable of finding novel solutions to problems.  Included in this circuit is the ability to inhibit automatic responses, thereby permitting novel responses. (Gazzaniga; Human, 22)

Visual information for working memory — Visuospatial Sketchpad

Maintenance of visual information in working memory; pathways between specialized areas (e.g. visual cortex) and the prefrontal region. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 182)

Pathways from specialized cortical areas tell prefrontal cortex "what" is there and "where" it is located. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 182)

Two-way street - prefrontal cortex via pathways back to specialized areas (e.g. visual cortex) instructs the specialized areas to stay focused on the objects and spatial locations that are being processed in working memory. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 182)

Auditory working memory — Phonological Loop

Auditory working memory involves auditory processing streams and prefrontal cortex. (similar to the visual system) Specialized sensory processing systems and prefrontal cortex may be generally applicable to many systems. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 182)


Research study — Broca Area Processing of Information


Executive function — Central Executive

A central aspect of this executive function is decision-making. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 185)

A plan of action is made of associated elements of long-term executive memory bound together into a prefrontal network that contains associations with future time and order. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 185)

Executive function seems to be spread out across multiple regions of the frontal cortex. Lateral prefrontal cortex (working memory) and anterior cingulate cortex are anatomically connected, and both receive inputs from various specialized sensory systems. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 187)

Higher order decisions and working memory may involve a choice between an action directed by the basal ganglia's implicit learning systems or a more elaborate conscious processing in the prefrontal areas of the brain, which can override the more primitive basal ganglia system. (Zimmer, Cerebrum 2008; Frank; Learning and the Basal Ganglia, 164)

Damasio's work and other studies of patients with brain disorders suggest that emotions are necessary for rational behavior. Human brains may be responding to emotions when we make economic decisions about cooperation, cheating and punishment, even if we are not aware of those emotions and how they influence us. (Insel, Cerebrum 2009; Dugatkin; Economic Man Has a Heart, 142)

Temporary storage in Prefrontal cortex

Prefrontal cortex engages in general-purpose temporary storage across many processing domains. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 186)

Temporary storage is carried out by domain-specific regions in the prefrontal cortex. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 187)

The various temporary storage areas could work together to integrate information across domains and constitute a single distributed system. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 187)

Verbal systems are mainly present in the human brain, whereas nonverbal systems are present in all brains.

Working memory depends on long-term memory

Working memory is temporary; its contents have to be constantly updated, but it depends on long-term memory. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 176)

Remembering is an imaginative construction, built on a whole active mass of past experiences. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 177)

When we face a problem, we draw upon mental schemata, organized bundles (gestalts) of stored knowledge. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 177)

Can only keep a few things active in our minds (in working memory) at once - seven pieces of information. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 177)

Expand working memory capacity by chunking (hierarchies of gestalts) or grouping information - seven letters, seven words, seven ideas. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 177)

Chunking -- information that can be coherently organized can be treated as a single element in working memory. (Baars; Essential Sources, 322)

One reason human cognition is so powerful is because we have language in our brains, which exponentially increases the ability to categorize information. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 177)

Working memory is more than just an area for temporary storage. Thinking involves juggling of mental items - comparing, contrasting, judging, predicting. Executive functions of working memory. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 177)

Executive is involved in scheduling the sequence of steps in a complex task. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 178)

Working memory can process information from diverse sources, allowing the information to be compared, contrasted, integrated, and otherwise cognitively manipulated by executive functions. Working memory must be able to store the information temporarily. (LeDoux; Synaptic Self, 179)

Short-term memory requires sustained brain activity in ‘primary’ processing regions

Working memory depends on sustained activation of portions of long-term memory, which must be construed in a broad sense. Perceiving, recognizing, understanding, and rehearsing are all abilities that result from continual refinements involving long-term memory. (Osaka, Working Memory; Postle; Activated Long-Term Memory, 333)

Plasticity is a property of virtually all elements of the nervous system. (Postle; Activated Long-Term Memory, 343)

Short-term retention of information in working memory is supported by sustained activity in cortical regions whose primary function is not working memory. (Postle; Activated Long-Term Memory, 344)

My concept of working memory: invokes synaptic long-term memory, interfaced and mediated by thalamocortical system


Research Study — Working Memory Fronto-Parietal Synchronization Lateral prefrontal and posterior parietal cortical areas exhibit widespread, task-dependent, and content-specific synchronization of activity  during working memory tasks in humans and monkeys.


Working memory accesses long term memories mediated throughout the cortex and subcortical nuclei.

Hippocampus provides a flexible memory access function for memories that have not been fully consolidated in the cortex.

My hypothesis: LTP within the hippocampus provides an indexing function for synaptic pathways throughout the cortex, thereby providing flexible intermediate-term memories for minutes, hours, days, weeks.

When these cortex synaptic pathways are (1) further LTPed via repeated use and are (2) consolidated during sleep and dreaming, the hippocampus indexing is no longer required.

Working memory can then access the cortex-LTPed synapses directly, which are then, in fact, long-term, hippocampus-independent memories.


My working memory model combines the working memory model of Baddeley with the Convergence-Divergence Architecture of Damasio.


                      Link to — Working Memory Model (Covington)


Excerpts from science experts

Working memory is a multicomponent psychological system that supports the temporary storage, manipulation, and transformation of information, needed to perform cognitive tasks. (Houk, Models of Basal Ganglia; Gabrieli; Basal Ganglia in Skill Learning and Working Memory, 283)

Working memory, the ability to "keep in mind" and manipulate conscious contents, such as phone numbers, sentences, and positions in space, for a few seconds is clearly closely related to consciousness. (Edelman; Universe of Consciousness, 22)

Core consciousness is not founded on working memory. (Damasio; Feeling of What Happens, 112)

All that core consciousness requires is a very brief, short-term memory. Do not require access to vast stores of past personal memories to have core consciousness. . (Damasio; Feeling of What Happens, 113)

While only a subset of working memory is consciously represented at any one time, working memory appears to go hand-in-hand with consciousness. Presence of working memory capabilities in individuals who can't talk, such as newborn babies or animals, is one indicator of the presence of some sort of consciousness. (Koch; Quest for Consciousness, 199)

Working memory is required for human-type consciousness. (Damasio; Feeling of What Happens, 112)

Human intelligence, as measured by IQ tests, is intimately tied to the performance of working memory. Working memory is characterized by a small storage capacity, semantic representation, and short duration. Without active rehearsal, its content fades within a minute. (Koch; Quest for Consciousness, 197)

Cognition and Working Memory

Cognitive science is about thinking, reasoning and intellect. (LeDoux; Emotional Brain, 25)

Brain can unconsciously solve geometric problems. (LeDoux; Emotional Brain, 31)

An animal's survival and motion in the world allow perceptual and conceptual categorization to occur continually in global mappings. Memory dynamically interacts with perceptual categorization by reentry. (Edelman; Bright Air, 166)

Categorization mechanisms work through global mappings that necessarily involve our bodies and our personal history. (Edelman; Bright Air, 152)

We do not consciously plan the grammatical structure of the sentences we utter. (LeDoux; Emotional Brain, 31)

Amygdala receives inputs from a wide range of levels of cognitive processing - (diagram) (LeDoux; Emotional Brain, 170)

Working Memory and Other Cortical Areas

Working memory is composed of a central executive and several slave modalities, such as the visual buffer or scratchpad for visual information and. the phonological loop for language. (Koch; Quest for Consciousness, 196)

A continuing question is whether working memory contains buffer storage for the various sensory and association cortex areas or whether working memory merely points to the specialized areas. Perhaps there is some of both.

Each sensory system appears equipped to provide its own local attention and working-memory. For global attention and working memory, the prefrontal cortices and some limbic system structures (anterior cingulate) are essential. (Damasio; Descartes' Error, 96)

Prefrontal cortex and working memory (Koch; Quest for Consciousness, 199)

Short-term memory (Koch; Quest for Consciousness, 196) (Crick; Astonishing Hypothesis, 22)

Perception-Action Cycle uses Reentry and Recursion

Joaquin Fuster’s Perception-Action Cycle uses reentry and recursion on all hierarchical layers between the frontal motor cortical areas and the posterior sensory cortical areas. The perception-action cycle likely embraces much of the functionality of working memory.

Whether a structure of action is part of the perception-action cycle or has its origin in the prefrontal cortex, its representational network will successively activate a series of subnetworks representing the component actions of that structure. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 362)

Feedback also allows the persistence of traces of sensory information in working memory to guide the action. (Fuster; Prefrontal Cortex, 362)


Value Systems

Three main neuroanatomical motifs in the brain: (1) thalamocortical, (2) polysynaptic loop structure, (3) diffuse ascending projections of the different value systems. (Edelman; Wider than the Sky, 26)

Locus coeruleus (Purves; Neuroscience, 150, 149)

Relational Processing — Central Executive Task Complexity

Relational processing basic to the functions of the central executive. (Osaka, Working Memory; Halford; Relational Processing, 262)

Relational processing at encoding enables flexible access to information and situations  quite different from those of the original learning. (Andersen; Hippocampus Book, 662)

Relational Complexity (RC) theory -- task complexity is a function of the number of related variables required to be processed in parallel. (Halford; Relational Processing, 263)

Relational complexity theory proposes that more complex relations impose higher processing loads, and that humans are limited in the complexity of relations that can be processed in any one representation. (Halford; Relational Processing, 263)

A four-way interaction is difficult even for experienced adults to process without external aids. (Halford; Relational Processing, 268)

Research study — Working Memory — Age-Related Decline

Research study — Recent Research in Working Memory



Return to — Thalamocortical System

Further discussion — Covington Theory of Consciousness