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Neuropsychologia. 2008 Sep;46(11):2668-82. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.04.023. Epub 2008 May 16.

Common and unique components of inhibition and working memory: an fMRI, within-subjects investigation.

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  • 1Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Group, Stockholm Brain Institute, Karolinska Institutet, Sweden.

Abstract

Behavioural findings indicate that the core executive functions of inhibition and working memory are closely linked, and neuroimaging studies indicate overlap between their neural correlates. There has not, however, been a comprehensive study, including several inhibition tasks and several working memory tasks, performed by the same subjects. In the present study, 11 healthy adult subjects completed separate blocks of 3 inhibition tasks (a stop task, a go/no-go task and a flanker task), and 2 working memory tasks (one spatial and one verbal). Activation common to all 5 tasks was identified in the right inferior frontal gyrus, and, at a lower threshold, also the right middle frontal gyrus and right parietal regions (BA 40 and BA 7). Left inferior frontal regions of interest (ROIs) showed a significant conjunction between all tasks except the flanker task. The present study could not pinpoint the specific function of each common region, but the parietal region identified here has previously been consistently related to working memory storage and the right inferior frontal gyrus has been associated with inhibition in both lesion and imaging studies. These results support the notion that inhibitory and working memory tasks involve common neural components, which may provide a neural basis for the interrelationship between the two systems.

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