Flexible frequency control of cortical oscillations enables computations required for working memory
Cognitive effort leads to a seeming cacophony of brain oscillations. For example, during tasks engaging working memory (WM), specific oscillatory frequency bands modulate in space and time. Despite ample data correlating such modulation to task performance, a mechanistic explanation remains elusive. We propose that flexible control of neural oscillations provides a unified mechanism for the rapid and controlled transitions between the computational operations required by WM. We show in a spiking network model that modulating the input oscillation frequency sets the network in different operating modes: rapid memory access and load is enabled by the beta-gamma oscillations, maintaining a memory while ignoring distractors by the theta, rapid memory clearance by the alpha. The various frequency bands determine the dynamic gating regimes enabling the necessary operations for WM, whose succession explains the need for the complex oscillatory brain dynamics during effortful cognition.