How does the prefrontal cortex control visual working memory
Cognitive functions demanding a high level of executive control, such as visual working memory processes, usually strongly depend on activity of the prefrontal cortex. The crucial question, though, is how the prefrontal cortex might coordinate these processes. How are functional links between the frontal cortex and involved posterior parietal and temporal brain areas controlled? How is synchronisation within such task-relevant networks achieved, and how does the prefrontal cortex de-couple from task-irrelevant brain areas? Here I will propose a model which might give answers to these questions. It is based on the idea that slow brain oscillations in the prefrontal cortex represent the fundament for phase-dependent fronto-parietal firing patterns flexibly allowing synchronisation between posterior association cortices and prefrontal brain regions or preventing this kind of synchronisation. The model is supported by EEG and TMS results from healthy participants, EEG findings in schizophrenic patients and neurocomputational modelling.