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Neuroimage. 2000 May;11(5 Pt 1):409-23.

An fMRI investigation of cortical contributions to spatial and nonspatial visual working memory.

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Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences and the Clinical Research Center, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


The experiments presented in this report were designed to test the hypothesis that visual working memory for spatial stimuli and for object stimuli recruits separate neuronal networks in prefrontal cortex. We acquired BOLD fMRI data from subjects while they compared each serially presented stimulus to the one that had appeared two or three stimuli previously. Three experiments failed to reject the null hypothesis that prefrontal cortical activity associated with spatial working memory performance cannot be dissociated from prefrontal cortical activity associated with nonspatial working memory performance. Polymodal regions of parietal cortex (inferior and superior parietal lobules), as well as cortex surrounding the superior frontal sulcus (and encompassing the frontal eye fields), also demonstrated equivalent levels of activation in the spatial and object conditions. Posterior cortical regions associated with the ventral visual processing stream (portions of lingual, fusiform, and inferior temporal gyri), however, demonstrated greater object than spatial working memory-related activity, particularly when stimuli varied only along spatial or featural dimensions. These experiments, representing fMRI studies of spatial and object working memory in which the testing procedure and the stimuli were identical in the two conditions, suggest that domain-specific visual working memory processing may be mediated by posterior regions associated with domain-specific sensory processing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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