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Neuroimage. 2000 Jul;12(1):85-99.

Collaborative activity between parietal and dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex in dynamic spatial working memory revealed by fMRI.

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Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 15213, USA.


Functional MRI was used to determine how the constituents of the cortical network subserving dynamic spatial working memory respond to two types of increases in task complexity. Participants mentally maintained the most recent location of either one or three objects as the three objects moved discretely in either a two- or three-dimensional array. Cortical activation in the dorsolateral prefrontal (DLPFC) and the parietal cortex increased as a function of the number of object locations to be maintained and the dimensionality of the display. An analysis of the response characteristics of the individual voxels showed that a large proportion were activated only when both the variables imposed the higher level of demand. A smaller proportion were activated specifically in response to increases in task demand associated with each of the independent variables. A second experiment revealed the same effect of dimensionality in the parietal cortex when the movement of objects was signaled auditorily rather than visually, indicating that the additional representational demands induced by 3-D space are independent of input modality. The comodulation of activation in the prefrontal and parietal areas by the amount of computational demand suggests that the collaboration between areas is a basic feature underlying much of the functionality of spatial working memory.

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