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Cortex. 2007 Jan;43(1):146-58.

Mapping the updating process: common and specific brain activations across different versions of the running span task.

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Neuropsychology Unit, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.


Neuroimaging studies exploring the neural substrates of executive functioning have only rarely investigated whether the non-executive characteristics of the experimental executive tasks could contribute to the observed brain activations. The aim of this study was to determine cerebral activity in three different tasks involving the updating executive function. The experimental updating tasks required subjects to process strings of items (respectively letters, words, and sounds) of unknown lengths, and then to recall or identify a specific number of presented items. Conjunction and functional connectivity analyses demonstrated that the cerebral areas activated by all three experimental tasks are the left frontopolar cortex, bilateral dorsolateral prefrontal and premotor cortex, bilateral intraparietal sulcus, right inferior parietal lobule and cerebellum. Some regions of this network appear to be more specific to each updating task. These results clearly indicate that the neural substrates underlying a specific executive process (in this case, updating) are modulated by the exact requirements of the task (such as the material to process or the kind of response) and the specific cognitive processes associated with updating.

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