Central executive function in working memory: event-related brain potential studies
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Visual event-related brain potentials (ERPs) were recorded during a running memory task, in which subjects dynamically revised (updated) memory stores, and a control task not requiring maintenance of a changing memory set but utilising identical stimulus sequences and response patterns. In three experiments, ERPs associated with cognitive processes were isolated through subtraction of control potentials from ERPs acquired during updating. We provide evidence that resultant difference ERPs primarily reflected processing or processing control, as opposed to storage. These findings are consistent both with Baddeley's working memory model, which postulates separate storage and control modules, and Morris and Jones' behavioral evidence for specific involvement of Baddeley's central executive in memory updating. In addition, our ERP data indicate that updating requires processes not suggested by Morris and Jones' behavioural studies; possibly control processes engaged to reduce the effects of proactive interference. Overall the data are consistent with the discovery of an ERP correlate of central executive activity.
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