Stimulating occipital cortex enhances visual working memory consolidation

Tal Makovski, Michal Lavidor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Visual working memory (WM) enables us to store and manipulate visual information for a short duration. Traditionally, prefrontal and parietal regions have been associated with visual WM processing; however recent fMRI studies have shown that visual WM information can be decoded from the visual cortex as well. In this study, we used transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to investigate the role of the visual cortex in retaining visual WM information. All subjects participated in two sessions of sham and active tDCS followed by a standard visual WM task. Two conditions were tested: in short encoding trials, the memory array (6 colored circles) was presented for 200. ms whereas in long encoding trials it was presented for 500. ms. We hypothesized that if stimulation over visual cortex modulates WM retention, then performance should be enhanced in both encoding conditions. However, if stimulation over visual cortex modulates mainly WM consolidation, then performance should improve only in the short encoding condition. The results supported the latter possibility as stimulation improved performance in the short encoding condition but not in the long encoding condition. Consequently, the robust advantage of the long encoding condition over the short encoding condition after sham stimulation was eliminated after active stimulation. These results suggest that the visual cortex is significant for WM consolidation, while it plays a smaller part in holding visual WM representations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-87
Number of pages4
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - 5 Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier B.V.


  • Change detection
  • Consolidation
  • Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)
  • Visual working memory


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