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Neuroimage. 2004 Jan;21(1):2-14.

Functional roles of the cingulo-frontal network in performance on working memory.

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Department of Psychology, Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.


We examined the relationship between brain activities and task performance on working memory. A large-scale study was initially administered to identify good and poor performers using the operation span and reading span tasks. On the basis of those span scores, we divided 20 consenting participants into high- and low-span groups. In an fMRI study, the participants performed verification of arithmetic problems and retention of target words either concurrently or separately. The behavioral results showed that performance was better in the high-span group than in the low-span group under a dual-task condition, but not under two single-task conditions. The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), left prefrontal cortex (PFC), left inferior frontal cortex, and bilateral parietal cortex were primarily activated for both span groups. We found that signal changes in the ACC were greater in the high-span group than in the low-span group under the dual-task condition, but not under the single-task conditions. Structural equation modeling indicated that an estimate of effective connectivity from the ACC to the left PFC was positive for the high-span group and negative for the-low span group, suggesting that closer cooperation between the two brain regions was strongly related to working memory performance. We conclude that central executive functioning for attention shifting is modulated by the cingulo-frontal network.

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