Storage in visual working memory recruits a content-independent pointer system
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Description: Data and code for the paper, "Storage in visual working memory recruits a content-independent pointer system." ABSTRACT: Past work has shown that storage in working memory (WM) elicits stimulus-specific neural activity that tracks the stored content. Here, we present evidence for a distinct class of load-sensitive neural activity that indexes items without representing their contents, per se. We recorded electroencephalogram (EEG) activity while human subjects stored varying numbers of items in visual WM. Multivariate analysis of the scalp topography of EEG voltage enabled precise tracking of the number of individuated items stored, and robustly predicted individual differences in WM capacity. Critically, this signature of WM load generalized across variations in both the type and number of visual features stored about each item, suggesting that it tracked the number of individuated memory representations and not the content of those memories. We hypothesize that these findings reflect the operation of a capacity-limited pointer system that supports online storage and attentive tracking.