Though much research has characterized both the behavior and electrophysiology of spatial memory for single targets in non-human primates, we know much less about how multiple memoranda are handled. Multiple memoranda may interact in the brain, affecting the underlying representations. Mnemonic resources are famously limited, so items may compete for “space” in memory or may be encoded cooperatively or in a combined fashion. Understanding the mode of interaction will inform future neural studies. As a first step, we quantified interactions during a multi-item spatial memory task. Two monkeys were shown 1–4 target locations. After a delay, the targets reappeared with a novel target and the animal was rewarded for fixating the novel target. Targets could appear either all at once (simultaneous) or with intervening delays (sequential). We quantified the degree of interaction with memory rate correlations. We found that simultaneously presented targets were stored cooperatively while sequentially presented targets were stored independently. These findings demonstrate how interaction between concurrently memorized items depends on task context. Future studies of multi-item memory would be served by designing experiments to either control or measure the mode of this interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1060193
JournalFrontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience
StatePublished - Dec 13 2022


  • chunking
  • monkey
  • multi-item
  • primate
  • working memory


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