The mechanism by which distinct subprocesses in the brain are coordinated is a central conundrum of systems neuroscience. The parietal lobe is thought to play a key role in visual feature integration, and oscillatory activity in the gamma frequency range has been associated with perception of coherent objects and other tasks requiring neural coordination. Here, we examined the neural correlates of integrating mental representations in working memory and hypothesized that parietal gamma activity would be related to the success of cognitive coordination. Working memory is a classic example of a cognitive operation that requires the coordinated processing of different types of information and the contribution of multiple cognitive domains. Using magnetoencephalography (MEG), we report parietal activity in the high gamma (80-100 Hz) range during manipulation of visual and spatial information (colors and angles) in working memory. This parietal gamma activity was significantly higher during manipulation of visual-spatial conjunctions compared with single features. Furthermore, gamma activity correlated with successful performance during the conjunction task but not during the component tasks. Cortical gamma activity in parietal cortex may therefore play a role in cognitive coordination.
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