Gamma and beta bursts during working memory readout suggest roles in its volitional control.
Working memory activity is not as stationary or sustained as previously thought. There are brief bursts of gamma ~ 50 - 120 Hz and beta ~ 20 - 35 Hz oscillations, the former linked to stimulus information in spiking. We examined these dynamics in relation to readout and control mechanisms of working memory. Monkeys held sequences of two objects in working memory to match to subsequent sequences. Changes in beta and gamma bursting suggested their distinct roles. In anticipation of having to use an object for the match decision, there was an increase in gamma and spiking information about that object and reduced beta bursting. This readout signal was only seen before relevant test objects, and was related to premotor activity. When the objects were no longer needed, beta increased and gamma decreased together with object spiking information. Deviations from these dynamics predicted behavioral errors. Thus, beta could regulate gamma and the information in working memory.