Univerity of Wisconsin-Madison

Psychology 621 (a.k.a. lab meeting)
Cognitive Neuroscience of Working Memory
Spring 2017

In this course we emphasize the critical evaluation of topical issues and data in working memory research. Toward this end, we also emphasize the methods of neuroimaging, neuropsychology, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), electroencephalography (EEG), and experimental psychology.

Format: Each week we discuss (at least) one article from the recent literature.  These discussions are organized as informal presentations that will give us an opportunity to discuss and assess in detail the theory, methods, results, and interpretation associated with that particular paper.  On occasion, these discussions are supplemented with, or supplanted by, an informal presentation of the design and/or results from an experiment being conducted in the Postle laboratory (see section on "3 credits", below).  Following the discussion of a particular paper or project, we end the meeting with an attempt to integrate what we've learned from this specific information into the perspective of contemporary cognitive neuroscience inquiry.

Levels of participation: The class may be taken for 1 or 3 credits.  The requirements for 1-credit registrants are simply to come to class having read the assigned paper, and prepared to participate in the discussion. The additional requirements for 3-credit registrants are to participate in a research project in the Postle laboratory that entails at least 10 hr./wk. of research time during two consecutive semesters. Availability of 3-credit option depends on current needs of the lab. The course number is Psychology 620. The in-class presentations of 3-crediters typically focus on their own experiments.


Meeting time and place: Fridays at 9:55 am in Brogden Psychology Building Room 519

Instructor: Brad Postle, 515 Psychology, 262-4330,

Office hours: By appointment.

With the exception of time-sensitive emergencies, email is the most effective and preferred way for you to contact me.

All readings are either available for download from the Lab Meeting tab on the Postlab website, or you may request a hard copy by emailing Emma Meyering at

Background readings

Postle BR (2015). The cognitive neuroscience of visual short-term memory, Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 1: 40-46.

Aschwanden C (2014). Harassment in Science, Replicated. New York Times, August 11.

Carandini, M., & Heeger, D. J. (2012). Normalization as a canonical neural computation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience13(1), 51-62.

Spring 2017

January 20

van Kerkoerle, T., Self, M. W., & Roelfsema, P. R. (2017). Layer-specificity in the effects of attention and working memory on activity in primary visual cortex. Nature Communications8, 13804.

January 27

Reinhart, R. M., Cosman, J. D., Fukuda, K., & Woodman, G. F. (2017). Using transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) to understand cognitive processing. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics79(1), 3-23.

February 3

Pertzov, Y., Manohar, S., & Husain, M. (2016). Rapid Forgetting Results From Competition Over Time Between Items in Visual Working Memory. 

February 10

No Meeting. Brad Away. 

February 17


February 24

Engel, T. A., Steinmetz, N. A., Gieselmann, M. A., Thiele, A., Moore, T., & Boahen, K. (2016). Selective modulation of cortical state during spatial attention. Science354(6316), 1140-1144. 

March 3

Briggs, F., Mangun, G. R., & Usrey, W. M. (2013). Attention enhances synaptic efficacy and the signal-to-noise ratio in neural circuits. Nature499(7459), 476-480.

March 10

No Meeting. Brad Away. 
(But if you want something fun to read, try this: Chen, J., Leong, Y. C., Honey, C. J., Yong, C. H., Norman, K. A., & Hasson, U. (2016). Shared memories reveal shared structure in neural activity across individuals. Nature Neuroscience.

March 17

No Meeting. Brad Away. 

March 24 

Spring Break and CNS 

March 31

Slagter, H. A., Mazaheri, A., Reteig, L. C., Smolders, R., Figee, M., Mantione, M., & Denys, D. (2016). Contributions of the ventral striatum to conscious perception: An intracranial EEG study of the attentional blink. Journal of Neuroscience, 2282-16.

April 7

Schneegans, S., & Bays, P. M. (2016). No fixed item limit in visuospatial working memory. Cortex; a Journal Devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior83, 181–193. 

April 14

Cole, S.R., Voytek, B. (2017) Brain oscillations and the importance of waveform shape. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 21, Issue 2, 137-149. 

April 21

Kaminski, J., Sullivan, S., Chung, J.M., Ross, I.B., Mamelak, A.N., Rutishauser, U. (2017) Persistently active neurons  in human medial frontal and medial temporal lobe support working memory. Nature Neuroscience, 20, 590-601.

April 28

Mike Starrett, University of California, Davis 




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Occasionally, a student may have a complaint about a TA or course instructor. If that happens, you should feel free to discuss the matter directly with the TA or instructor. If the complaint is about the TA and you do not feel comfortable discussing it with him or her, you should discuss it with the course instructor. If you do not want to approach the instructor, make an appointment to speak to the Department Chair, Professor Patricia Devine, by emailing:

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Ethics of being a student in the Department of Psychology

The members of the faculty of the Department of Psychology at UW-Madison uphold the highest ethical standards of teaching and research. They expect their students to uphold the same standards of ethical conduct. By registering for this course, you are implicitly agreeing to conduct yourself with the utmost integrity throughout the semester.

In the Department of Psychology, acts of academic misconduct are taken very seriously. Such acts diminish the educational experience for all involved – students who commit the acts, classmates who would never consider engaging in such behaviors, and instructors. Academic misconduct includes, but is not limited to, cheating on assignments and exams, stealing exams, sabotaging the work of classmates, submitting fraudulent data, plagiarizing the work of classmates or published and/or online sources, acquiring previously written papers and submitting them (altered or unaltered) for course assignments, collaborating with classmates when such collaboration is not authorized, and assisting fellow students in acts of misconduct. Students who have knowledge that classmates have engaged in academic misconduct should report this to the instructor.

For detailed information on how to avoid plagiarism, please see the following website:

Your instructor will contact you if s/he has concerns about academic misconduct. You will have an opportunity to explain your work and address your instructor’s concerns. Following the meeting, if your instructor believes that you engaged in misconduct, s/he will decide on an action. Following UW protocol, your instructor will inform the Dean of Students’ Office of the outcome of the meeting and proposed sanction. Penalties for substantiated cases of academic misconduct include a zero on the assignment or exam, a lower grade in the course, and failure in the course. Repeated acts of academic misconduct may result in more serious actions such as probation or suspension. For complete information on proper conduct, academic misconduct, and sanctions, please see UWS Chapter 14:

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Students are expected to inform faculty [me] of their need for instructional accommodations by the end of the third week of the semester, or as soon as possible after a disability has been incurred or recognized. Faculty [I], will work either directly with the student [you] or in coordination with the McBurney Center to identify and provide reasonable instructional accommodations. Disability information, including instructional accommodations, as part of a studentʼs educational record is confidential and protected under FERPA.

Pandemic/Catastrophic Readiness

In the event that this course is no longer able to meet face-to-face, students should be up to date with course readings and prepared to be evaluated on their knowledge/reading of these materials via email communication with the professor or the lab manager. These readings can be found on the lab website at under the “Lab Meeting” tab. All questions during any such event should be addressed to the lab manager, Emma Meyering ( In additions students should monitor the UW-Madison homepage for emergency information and updates.

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