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J Neurosci. 2000 Oct 1;20(19):7496-503.

Dissociable roles of mid-dorsolateral prefrontal and anterior inferotemporal cortex in visual working memory.

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  • 1Montreal Neurological Institute and Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2B4, Canada.


Functional neuroimaging in human subjects and studies of monkeys with lesions limited to the mid-dorsolateral (MDL) prefrontal cortex have shown that this specific region of the prefrontal cortex is involved in visual working memory, although its precise role remains a matter of debate. The present study compared the effect on visual working memory of lesions restricted to the mid-dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of the monkey with that of lesions to the anterior inferotemporal cortex, a region of the temporal cortex specialized for visual memory. Increasing the delay during which information had to be maintained in visual working memory impaired performance after lesions of the anterior inferotemporal cortex, but not after mid-dorsolateral prefrontal lesions. By contrast, increasing the number of stimuli that had to be monitored impaired the performance of animals with mid-dorsolateral prefrontal lesions, but not that of animals with anterior inferotemporal lesions. This demonstration of a double dissociation between the effects of these two lesions provides strong evidence that the role of the mid-dorsolateral prefrontal cortex in visual working memory does not lie in the maintenance of information per se, but rather in the executive process of monitoring this information. In addition, the present study demonstrated that lesions limited to area 9, which constitutes the superior part of the mid-dorsolateral prefrontal region, give rise to a mild impairment in the monitoring of information, whereas lesions of the complete mid-dorsolateral prefrontal region yield a very severe impairment.

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