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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2004 Apr;28(2):113-21.

The neural mechanisms of object working memory: what is where in the infant brain?

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Massaschusetts Boston, 100 Morrissey Blvd., Boston, MA 02125, USA. natasha.sigala@psy.ox.ac.uk


The question of how representational capacities develop in humans has been engaging cognitive psychologists for decades. Looking time studies have explored when infants start to show signs of perceiving and remembering the properties of specific objects at specific locations. Here we integrate these findings into the neuroscientific framework of human visual working memory. We suggest that the development of a system involving the temporal cortex, thalamic and hippocampal structures and possibly the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (later in development) can account for these behavioral results. Our explanation differs from most of the current approaches in developmental science as we put less emphasis on the contribution of lateral prefrontal areas. We discuss shortcomings of the theories that propose a functional subdivision of these areas and their difficulty in accounting for results from monkey lesion and infant studies. We believe that this shift in focus is desirable both in light of what recent results on medial temporal lobe processing reveal about object working memory, and given how well these results fit the behavioral developmental data.

Copyright 2004 Elsevier Ltd.

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