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Neuron. 2005 Nov 23;48(4):687-97.

Human dorsal and ventral auditory streams subserve rehearsal-based and echoic processes during verbal working memory.

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National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Intramural Research Program, Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


To hear a sequence of words and repeat them requires sensory-motor processing and something more-temporary storage. We investigated neural mechanisms of verbal memory by using fMRI and a task designed to tease apart perceptually based ("echoic") memory from phonological-articulatory memory. Sets of two- or three-word pairs were presented bimodally, followed by a cue indicating from which modality (auditory or visual) items were to be retrieved and rehearsed over a delay. Although delay-period activation in the planum temporale (PT) was insensible to the source modality and showed sustained delay-period activity, the superior temporal gyrus (STG) activated more vigorously when the retrieved items had arrived to the auditory modality and showed transient delay-period activity. Functional connectivity analysis revealed two topographically distinct fronto-temporal circuits, with STG co-activating more strongly with ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and PT co-activating more strongly with dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These argue for separate contributions of ventral and dorsal auditory streams in verbal working memory.

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