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Hum Brain Mapp. 2003 May;19(1):37-46.

Demand on verbal working memory delays haemodynamic response in the inferior prefrontal cortex.

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Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale U455, Hôpital Purpan, Toulouse, France.


Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging was used to test the involvement of the inferior prefrontal cortex in verbal working memory. Pairs of French nouns were presented to ten native French speakers who had to make semantic or grammatical gender decisions. Verbal working memory involvement was manipulated by making the categorization of the second noun optional. Decisions could be made after processing the first noun only (RELEASE condition) or after processing the two nouns (HOLD condition). Reaction times suggested faster processing for gender than for semantic category in RELEASE. Despite the absence of anatomical difference across tasks and conditions in the wide activated network, the haemodynamic response peak latencies of the inferior prefrontal cortex were significantly delayed in HOLD versus RELEASE while no such peak delay was observed in the superior temporal gyrus. Interestingly, this pattern did not interact with language tasks. This study shows that cognitive manipulation can influence haemodynamic time-course and suggests that the main cognitive process determining inferior prefrontal activation is verbal working memory rather than specific linguistic processes such as grammatical or semantic analysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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