Univerity of Wisconsin-Madison

Psychology 620 (a.k.a. lab meeting)
Cognitive Neuroscience of Working Memory
Fall 2014

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 placeFridays at 9:55AM, room 634 Psychology (unless otherwise noted)

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 Michael Starrett at

Background readings

Postle BR (In Press). 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.

September 5

Wimmer K, Nykamp DQ, Constantinidis C, & Compte A (2014). Bump attractor dynamics in prefrontal cortex explains behavioral precision in spatial working memory. Nature Neuroscience, 17 (3): 431-439. doi:10.1038/nn.3645.

September 12

Mueller JK, Gribsby EM, Prevosto V, Petraglia III FW, Rao H, Deng Z-D, Peterchev AV, Sommer MA, Egner T, Platt ML, & Grill WM (2014). Simultaneous transcranial magnetic stimulation and single-neuron recording in alert non-human primates. Nature Neuroscience, 17 (8): 1130-1136. doi:10.1038/nn.3751.

September 19

Anderson DE, Serences JT, Vogel EK, & Awh E (2014). Induced alpha rhythms track the content and quality of visual working memory representations with high temporal precision, Journal of Neuroscience, 34 (22):7587-7599. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0293-14.2014.

September 26

Hubbard EM (2013). "Synesthesia and functional imaging." Chapter 24 in The Oxford Handbook of Synesthesia, edited by Julia Simner and Edward M. Hubbard, 475-599. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Lewis-Peacock JA, Drysdale AT, & Postle BR (In Press). Neural evidence for the flexible control of mental representations, Cerebral Cortex.

October 3

No Class - BP out of town

October 10

Kozyrev V, Eysel UT, & Janckea (2014). Votage-sensitive dye imaging of transcranial magnetic stimulation-induced intracortical dynamics, PNAS, published online before print. doi:10.1073/pnas.1405508111.

October 17

Gratton C, Lee TG, Nomura EM, & D'Esposito M (2014). Perfusion MRI indexes variability in the function brain effects of theta-burst transcranial magnetic stimulation, PLOS ONE, 9 (7): e101430. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101430.

October 24

Haegens S, Cousijn H, Wallis G, Harrison PJ, & Nobre AC (2014). Inter- and intra-individual variability in alpha peak frequency, NeuroImage, 92: 46-55. doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.01.049.

October 31

Sprague TC, Ester EF, & Serences JT (in press). Reconstructions of information in visual spatial working memory degrade with memory load, Current Biology. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2014.07.066.

November 7

Practice SfN Talks

November 14

No Class - SfN

November 21

Myers NE, Stokes MG, Walther L, & Nobre AC (2014). Oscillatory brain state predicts variability in working memory, Journal of Neuroscience, 34 (23): 7735-7743. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4741-13.2014.

November 28

No class - Thanksgiving

December 5

Oberauer K (2013). The focus of attention in working memory—from metaphors to mechanisms, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7: 673. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00673.

December 12

Hardman K & Cowan C (In Press). Remembering complex objects in visual working memory: Do capacity limits restrict objects or features? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition.

Next Semester

Roux F & Uhlhaas PJ (2014). Working memory and neural oscillations: Alpha-gamma versus theta-gamma codes for distinct WM information? Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 18 (1): 16-25. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2013.10.010

Womelsdorf T, Valiante TA, Sahin NT, Miller KJ, & Tiesinga P (2014). Dynamic circuit motifs underlying rhythmic gain control, gating and integration, Nature Neuroscience, 7(8): 1031-1039. doi:10.1038/nn.3764.

Knops A, Piazza M, Sengupta R, Eger E, & Melcher D (2014). A shared, flexible neural map architecture reflects capacity limits in both visual short-term memory and enumeration, Journal of Neuroscience, 34 (30): 9857-9866. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2758-13.2014.


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 Vicky Lenzlinger, Undergraduate Program Coordinator, phone 262-0512 or email her at Her office is located on the second floor of the Psychology building, room 222.

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:

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

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