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J Neurosci. 2010 Jul 21;30(29):9788-92. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1513-10.2010.

Keeping memory clear and stable--the contribution of human basal ganglia and prefrontal cortex to working memory.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of Mainz, 55131 Mainz, Germany.


Successful remembering involves both hindering irrelevant information from entering working memory (WM) and actively maintaining relevant information online. Using a voxelwise lesion-behavior brain mapping approach in stroke patients, we observed that lesions of the left basal ganglia render WM susceptible to irrelevant information. Lesions of the right prefrontal cortex on the other hand make it difficult to keep more than a few items in WM. These findings support basal ganglia-prefrontal cortex models of WM whereby the basal ganglia play a gatekeeper role and allow only relevant information to enter prefrontal cortex where this information then is actively maintained in WM.

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