Univerity of Wisconsin-Madison

Psychology 621 (a.k.a. lab meeting)
Cognitive Neuroscience of Working Memory
Spring 2021

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 621. 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

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)


Spring 2021

January 8

Schneegans, S., & Bays, P. M. (2019). New perspectives on binding in visual working memory. British Journal of Psychology110(2), 207-244.


January 15

Zhou, S., Masmanidis, S. C., & Buonomano, D. V. (2020). Neural Sequences as an Optimal Dynamical Regime for the Readout of Time. Neuron108(4), 651-658.


January 22

Matthias Ekman, Pieter R. Roelfsema and Floris P. de Lange (2020). Object Selection by Automatic Spreading of Top-Down Attentional Signals in V1 Journal of Neuroscience 40 (48) 9250-9259


January 29

Kim, H., Smolker, H. R., Smith, L. L., Banich, M. T., & Lewis-Peacock, J. A. (2020). Changes to information in working memory depend on distinct removal operations. Nature Communications11(1), 1-14.

February 5

Rahmati, M., DeSimone, K., Curtis, C. E., & Sreenivasan, K. K. (2020). Spatially-specific working memory activity in the human superior colliculus. Journal of Neuroscience.


February 12

Donoghue, T., Haller, M., Peterson, E.J. et al. Parameterizing neural power spectra into periodic and aperiodic components. Nat Neurosci 23, 1655–1665 (2020).


February 19

Beukers, A. O., Buschman, T. J., Cohen, J. D., & Norman, K. A. (2021). Is Activity Silent Working Memory Simply Episodic Memory?. Trends in Cognitive Sciences.


February 26

Miller, J. A., Voorhies, W. I., Lurie, D. J., D’Esposito, M., & Weiner, K. S. (2021). Overlooked tertiary sulci serve as a meso-scale link between microstructural and functional properties of human lateral prefrontal cortex. Journal of Neuroscience.


March 5

Hallenbeck, G. E., Sprague, T. C., Rahmati, M. C., Sreenivasan, K. K., & Curtis, C. E. (2021). Working Memory Representations in Visual Cortex Mediate the Effects of Distraction. bioRxiv


March 12

Liu, J., Zhang, H., Yu, T., Ni, D., Ren, L., Yang, Q., ... & Xue, G. (2020). Stable maintenance of multiple representational formats in human visual short-term memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences117(51), 32329-32339.


March 19

Zhang, X., & Golomb, J. D. (2020). Neural representations of covert attention across saccades: comparing pattern similarity to shifting and holding attention during fixation. eNeuro 2021; 10.1523/ENEURO.0186-20.2021


March 26

Cheney, I., & Shattuck, S. (Directors). (2020). Picture a Scientist [Video file]. USA: Uprising, The Wonder Collaborative, Mindjazz Pictures. Retrieved June 12, 2020, from


April 2

Foster, J. J., Thyer, W., Wennberg, J. W., & Awh, E. (2021). Covert attention increases the gain of stimulus-evoked population codes. Journal of Neuroscience.


April 9

Panichello, M.F., Buschman, T.J. Shared mechanisms underlie the control of working memory and attention. Nature (2021).


April 16

Feldmann-Wüstefeld, T., Weinberger, M., & Awh, E. (2020). Spatially guided distractor suppression during visual search. Journal of Neuroscience


April 23

Yin, S., Bi, T., Chen, A., & Egner, T. (2021). Ventromedial prefrontal cortex drives the prioritization of self-associated stimuli in working memory. Journal of Neuroscience41(9), 2012-2023.


April 30

Verschooren, S., Kessler, Y., & Egner, T. (2021). Evidence for a single mechanism gating perceptual and long-term memory information into working memory. Cognition.


May 7

Antonov, P. A., Chakravarthi, R., & Andersen, S. K. (2020). Too little, too late, and in the wrong place: Alpha band activity does not reflect an active mechanism of selective attention. NeuroImage, 117006.




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. If you do not want to approach the instructor, make an appointment to speak to the Department Chair, Professor Patricia Devine, by emailing:

If your complaint has to do with sexual harassment, you may also take your complaint to Dan Barnish, Undergraduate Program Coordinator, phone 262-0512 or email him at His office is located on the second floor of the Psychology building, room 223.

If you believe the TA or course instructor has discriminated against you because of your religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnic background, you also may take your complaint to the Office of Equity and Diversity, room 179-A Bascom Hall, or go to:

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:

Instructional Accommodations

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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, Jackie Fulvio ( In additions students should monitor the UW-Madison homepage for emergency information and updates.

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