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Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2009 Feb;91(2):129-38. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2008.12.006. Epub 2009 Jan 16.

Neural correlates of learning and working memory in the primate posterior parietal cortex.

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Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157-1010, USA.


The posterior parietal cortex has been traditionally associated with coordinate transformations necessary for interaction with the environment and with visual-spatial attention. More recently, involvement of posterior parietal cortex in other cognitive functions such as working memory and task learning has become evident. Neurophysiological experiments in non-human primates and human imaging studies have revealed neural correlates of memory and learning at the single neuron and at the brain network level. During working memory, posterior parietal neurons continue to discharge and to represent stimuli that are no longer present. This activation resembles the responses of prefrontal neurons, although important differences have been identified in terms of the ability to resist stimulation by distracting stimuli, which is more evident in the prefrontal than the posterior parietal cortex. Posterior parietal neurons also become active during tasks that require the organization of information into larger structured elements and their activity is modulated according to learned context-dependent rules. Neural correlates of learning can be observed in the mean discharge rate and spectral power of neuronal spike trains after training to perform new task sets or rules. These findings demonstrate the importance of posterior parietal cortex in brain networks mediating working memory and learning.

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