Loading...
Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Decomposing cognition: Working memory mechanism and representations

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
3.03.00  Medical sciences  Neurobiology   

Code Science Field
B640  Biomedical sciences  Neurology, neuropsychology, neurophysiology 

Code Science Field
3.01  Medical and Health Sciences  Basic medicine 
Keywords
working memory, representations, strategies, fMRI, EEG, machine learning, functional connectivity, individual differences
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (20)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  18463  PhD Andreja Avsec  Psychology  Researcher  2018 - 2022  294 
2.  33621  PhD Jurij Bon  Psychiatry  Researcher  2018 - 2022  167 
3.  09182  PhD Valentin Bucik  Psychology  Researcher  2018 - 2022  654 
4.  33795  Rok Češnovar  Computer science and informatics  Researcher  2018 - 2022  23 
5.  37645  PhD Jure Demšar  Computer science and informatics  Researcher  2019 - 2022  86 
6.  29485  PhD Jana Faganeli Pucer  Computer science and informatics  Researcher  2018 - 2022  37 
7.  28624  PhD Milica Gregorič Kramberger  Neurobiology  Researcher  2018 - 2022  255 
8.  50304  Aleksij Kraljič  Neurobiology  Technical associate  2018 - 2022  15 
9.  38946  Andraž Matkovič  Neurobiology  Researcher  2018 - 2022  53 
10.  52729  Tjaša Mlinarič  Interdisciplinary research  Technical associate  2019 - 2022 
11.  05380  PhD Zvezdan Pirtošek  Neurobiology  Researcher  2018 - 2022  746 
12.  37430  PhD Vida Ana Politakis  Psychology  Junior researcher  2018 - 2020  27 
13.  50534  PhD Nina Purg  Psychology  Junior researcher  2018 - 2022  36 
14.  17893  PhD Grega Repovš  Psychology  Head  2018 - 2022  490 
15.  36162  PhD Anka Slana Ozimič  Neurobiology  Researcher  2018 - 2022  126 
16.  17836  PhD Gregor Sočan  Psychology  Researcher  2018 - 2022  223 
17.  29486  PhD Erik Štrumbelj  Computer science and informatics  Researcher  2018 - 2022  116 
18.  07002  PhD Dušan Šuput  Neurobiology  Researcher  2018 - 2022  434 
19.  26268  PhD Andrej Vovk  Neurobiology  Researcher  2018 - 2022  52 
20.  39636  PhD Gaja Zager Kocjan  Psychology  Researcher  2020 - 2022  117 
Organisations (4)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0581  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts  Ljubljana  1627058  98,181 
2.  0312  University Medical Centre Ljubljana  Ljubljana  5057272000  77,680 
3.  0381  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Medicine  Ljubljana  1627066  48,402 
4.  1539  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Computer and Information Science  Ljubljana  1627023  16,280 
Abstract
Working memory, the ability to maintain information relevant for successful performance of the ongoing tasks, is a key cognitive ability enabling formulation, execution, and control of goal directed behaviour. Due to its complexity, core role in cognition and impact on everyday living, working memory is a subject of intense interest both in basic as well as applied research. Current state-of-the-art in working memory is characterised by a number of theoretical dilemmas and inconsistencies in empirical findings that can be attributed to both differences in the underlying cognitive and brain systems as well as differences in research methods used. There is an evident lack of integration of theoretical models, empirical methods and findings across levels of observation and disciplines. The current state of research is impeding advances in mapping the structure of working memory, identifying the representations and mechanisms of working memory encoding, maintenance and retrieval, and relating different levels of observation from neurons to behaviour. In applied research and translation to clinical practice, the lack of clear specification of working memory components, representations and mechanisms, hinders identification and understanding of working memory developmental changes and impairments and impedes development of effective diagnostic tools and efficient interventions. The aim of the proposed research is to contribute to the solution of the identified problems by detailed decomposition of cognitive and neurobiological elements of working memory, and by resolving and integrating specific theoretical and empirical questions through combining research methods at different levels of observation, from phenomenology to cognition and brain activity, employing first person research, behavioural experiments and multimodal brain imaging. The key proposal of the project is that many of the apparent inconsistencies can be resolved by understanding working memory as employing a number of shared and distinct representations and mechanism across its modalities in order to maintain and process information. These can be engaged to a different extent, depending on task requirements and individual differences. Some of the representations might exhibit slot-like, categorical characteristics and be robustly maintained until critical “sudden death” failure, whereas others might be limited by continuous resources and slowly degrade in time. What representations are used can depend on the specific nature of the task, leading to different results in different experimental designs. To achieve its goals the project proposes addressing three research themes. The aim of the first theme is to use neurophenomenology to identify to what extent participants use different strategies in working memory task performance, identify their neurobiological bases, and investigate to what extent the use of different strategies can be learnt. The aim of the second theme is to investigate specific features of visual and spatial working memory representations, investigate the neurobiological bases of discrete and continuous representations and explore to what extent their use can be induced by context and task requirements, and shared across the two modalities. Lastly, the aim of the third theme is to gain specific understanding of the neural representations and mechanisms enabling fine-grained maintenance of location in spatial working memory depending on task requirements and individual differences.  Jointly the aim of the project is to gain better understanding of the neurobiology of working memory and tools for its assessment and monitoring that will allow also advances in identification, monitoring and addressing of working memory dysfunction in psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases as well as development of interventions for ameliorating cognitive decline in healthy ageing.
Significance for science
Proposed project addresses currently relevant questions in the study of nature and properties of working memory representations, structure and mechanisms of working memory. Proposed research is based on a comprehensive definition of working memory and focused towards resolving some of the pressing questions and inconsistencies in extant literature. The project proposes an original solution that enables integration of existing findings into novel understanding of working memory as well as resolution of specific theoretical and empirical dilemmas. Besides addressing some of the basic research questions about the structure and mechanisms of working memory and their neurobiological bases, the insights gained will also enable more detailed assessment of specific impairments of working memory and enable more efficient identification and monitoring of working memory dysfunction as well as effectiveness of novel interventions and therapies.  The proposed project combines varied levels and perspectives in the study of working memory. In terms of methodology it fortifies the use of recently integrated approaches such as machine learning and introduces novel methods into working memory research such as neurophenomenology. Jointly it provides a good example of multimodal interdisciplinary research of working memory and cognition. By introducing neurophenomenology, the project expands the boundaries of interdisciplinary integration of research methods and with the study of individual differences and possibilities of training different strategies of working memory task performance it overcomes classical limitations in the study of cognitive processes and on a practical and professional level opens the possibility of development and evaluation of novel interventions in addressing impairments of working memory and decline of cognitive abilities in the context of healthy ageing.
Significance for the country
Proposed project addresses currently relevant questions in the study of nature and properties of working memory representations, structure and mechanisms of working memory. Proposed research is based on a comprehensive definition of working memory and focused towards resolving some of the pressing questions and inconsistencies in extant literature. The project proposes an original solution that enables integration of existing findings into novel understanding of working memory as well as resolution of specific theoretical and empirical dilemmas. Besides addressing some of the basic research questions about the structure and mechanisms of working memory and their neurobiological bases, the insights gained will also enable more detailed assessment of specific impairments of working memory and enable more efficient identification and monitoring of working memory dysfunction as well as effectiveness of novel interventions and therapies.  The proposed project combines varied levels and perspectives in the study of working memory. In terms of methodology it fortifies the use of recently integrated approaches such as machine learning and introduces novel methods into working memory research such as neurophenomenology. Jointly it provides a good example of multimodal interdisciplinary research of working memory and cognition. By introducing neurophenomenology, the project expands the boundaries of interdisciplinary integration of research methods and with the study of individual differences and possibilities of training different strategies of working memory task performance it overcomes classical limitations in the study of cognitive processes and on a practical and professional level opens the possibility of development and evaluation of novel interventions in addressing impairments of working memory and decline of cognitive abilities in the context of healthy ageing.
Most important scientific results Interim report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results
Views history
Favourite