Dissociable decoding of spatial attention and working memory from EEG oscillations and sustained potentials

Gi Yeul Bae, Steven J. Luck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


In human scalp EEG recordings, both sustained potentials and alpha-band oscillations are present during the delay period of working memory tasks and may therefore reflect the representation of information in working memory. However, these signals may instead reflect support mechanisms rather than the actual contents of memory. In particular, alpha-band oscillations have been tightly tied to spatial attention and may not reflect location-independent memory representations per se. To determine how sustained and oscillating EEG signals are related to attention and working memory, we attempted to decode which of 16 orientations was being held in working memory by human observers (both women and men). We found that sustained EEG activity could be used to decode the remembered orientation of a stimulus, even when the orientation of the stimulus varied independently of its location. Alpha-band oscillations also carried clear information about the location of the stimulus, but they provided little or no information about orientation independently of location. Thus, sustained potentials contain information about the object properties being maintained in working memory, consistent with previous evidence of a tight link between these potentials and working memory capacity. In contrast, alpha-band oscillations primarily carry location information, consistent with their link to spatial attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)409-422
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 10 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Alpha
  • Decoding
  • EEG
  • ERP
  • Orientation
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Dissociable decoding of spatial attention and working memory from EEG oscillations and sustained potentials'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this