Univerity of Wisconsin-Madison

Psychology 621 (a.k.a. lab meeting)
Cognitive Neuroscience of Working Memory
Fall 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 Jackie Fulvio at

Background readings & viewings

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.

Postle BR (2017). Harassment in the academic setting. (View the first 12 minutes or so of the lecture)

Fall 2017

September 8

Schneegans & Bays (2017). Neural Architecture for Feature Binding in Visual Working Memory. The Journal of Neuroscience, 37(14):3913-3925.

September 15

No Meeting- Brad Postle at Annual meeting of Memory Disorders Research Society

September 22

Peterson & Voytek (2017). Alpha oscillations control cortical gain by modulating excitatory-inhibitory background activity.  bioRxiv; doi: 

September 29

Konecky et al. (2017). Monkey prefrontal neurons during Sternberg task performance: full contents of working memory or most recent item? Journal of Neurophysiology, 117:2269-2281, doi: 10.1152/jn.00541.2016. 

October 6

Popov et al. (2017). FEF-Controlled Alpha Delay Activity Precedes Stimulus-Induced Gamma-Band Activity in Visual Cortex. The Journal of Neuroscience, 37(15):4117-4127.

October 13

Trubutschek et al. (2017). A theory of working memory without consciousness or sustained activity. eLife, 6:e23871; doi: 10.7554/eLife.23871

October 20

Forschack et al. (2017). Alpha-Band Brain Oscillations Shape the Processing of Perceptible as well as Imperceptible Somatosensory Stimuli during Selection Attention. Journal of Neuroscience, 37(29):6983-6994. 

October 27

Foster et al. (2017). Alpha-Band Activity Reveals Spontaneous Representations of Spatial Position in Visual Working Memory. Current Biology.

November 3

SfN practice presentations

November 10

No Meeting- Travel day for Annual Meeting of Society for Neuroscience 

November 17

Reber et al. (2017). Single-Neuron Correlates of Conscious Perception in the Human Medial Temporal Lobe. Current Biology, 27: 1-8; 

November 24

No Meeting- Thanksgiving Holiday

December 1

Liu et al. (2017). Inverted encoding models of human population response conflate noise and neural tuning width. Journal of Neuroscience 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2453-17.2017. 

December 8

Merrikhi et al. (2017). Spatial working memory alters the efficacy of input to visual cortex. Nature communications 8:15041, 1-10; do: 10.1038/ncomms15041. 





Where to take complaints about a Teaching Assistant or Course Instructor:

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. Complaints about mistakes in grading should be resolved with the TA and/or instructor in the great majority of cases.  If the complaint is about the instructor (other than ordinary grading questions) and you do not feel comfortable discussing it with him or her, make an appointment to speak to the Chair of The Psychology Department, Professor Hill Goldsmith ( 

If your complaint concerns sexual harassment, you may also take your complaint to Dr. Linnea Burk, Clinical Associate Professor and Director, Psychology Research and Training Clinic, Room 315 Psychology (262-9079; 

If you believe the TA or course instructor has discriminated against you because of your religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or ethnic background, you may talk to the Associate Chair or the Department Chair, or you may file a formal complaint with an Equal Opportunity Complaint Investigator in the UW-Madison Office of Compliance, Room 361 Bascom Hall, 608-265-6018 (


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.

Instructional Accommodations

The University of Wisconsin-Madison supports the right of all enrolled students to a full and equal educational opportunity. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Wisconsin State Statute (36.12), and UW-Madison policy (Faculty Document 1071) require that students with disabilities be reasonably accommodated in instruction and campus life. Reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities is a shared faculty and student responsibility. 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 student’s 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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