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Neuropsychol Rev. 2004 Mar;14(1):43-64.

Sequential memory: a developmental perspective on its relation to frontal lobe functioning.

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  • 1Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas 78602, USA.


The multidimensional nature of the frontal lobes serves to organize and coordinate brain functionings playing a central and pervasive role in human cognition. The executive processes implicated in complex cognition such as novel problem solving, modifying behavior as appropriate in response to changes in the environment, inhibiting prepotent or previous responses, and the implementation of schemas that organize behavior over time are believed to be mediated by the frontal regions of the brain. Overall, the functioning of the frontal lobes assists individuals in goal directed and self-regulatory behavior. Additional theories of frontal lobe functioning have focused on its involvement in temporal, or time-related domains. The organizational and strategic nature of frontal lobe functioning affects memory processes by enhancing the organization of to-be-remembered information. Among the specific memory systems presumed to be based on anterior cerebral structures is the temporal organization of memory. An essential component of memory that involves temporal organization is sequential ordering entailing the ability to judge which stimuli were seen most recently and the temporal ordering of events in memory. Focal lesion studies have demonstrated the importance of the frontal lobes on retrieval tasks in which monitoring, verification, and placement of information in temporal and spatial contexts of critical importance. Similarly, frontal lobe damage has been associated with deficits in memory for the temporal ordering, or sequencing, of events. The acquisition of abilities thought to be mediated by the frontal lobes, including sequential memory, unfolds throughout childhood, serving to condition patterns of behavior for the rest of the brain. Development of the frontal regions of the brain is known to continue through late adolescence and into early adulthood, in contrast to the earlier maturation of other cortical regions. The developmental patterns of the frontal lobes are thought to involve a hierarchical, dynamic, and multistage process.

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