Dynamic population coding and its relationship to working memory

Ethan M. Meyers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


For over 45 years, neuroscientists have conducted experiments aimed at understanding the neural basis of working memory. Early results examining individual neurons highlighted that information is stored in working memory in persistent sustained activity where neurons maintained elevated firing rates over extended periods of time. However, more recent work has emphasized that information is often stored in working memory in dynamic population codes, where different neurons contain information at different periods in time. In this paper, I review findings that show that both sustained activity as well as dynamic codes are present in the prefrontal cortex and other regions during memory delay periods. I also review work showing that dynamic codes are capable of supporting working memory and that such dynamic codes could easily be “readout” by downstream regions. Finally, I discuss why dynamic codes could be useful for enabling animals to solve tasks that involve working memory. Although additional work is still needed to know definitively whether dynamic coding is critical for working memory, the findings reviewed here give insight into how different codes could contribute to working memory, which should be useful for guiding future research.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2260-2268
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 24 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-06-09
Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the Center for Brains, Minds and Machines, funded by National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center Award CCF-1231216. Additional support came from Adobe, Honda Research Institute USA, and a King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Grant to B. DeVore.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


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