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Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 1999 Jan;7(3):411-7.

Regional brain activity during tasks devoted to the central executive of working memory.

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Neuropsychology Unit, University of Liège, Liège, Belgium.


Most previous PET studies investigating the central executive (CE) component of working memory found activation in the prefrontal cortex. However, the tasks used did not always permit to distinguish precisely the functions of the CE from the storage function of the slave systems. The aim of the present study was to isolate brain areas that subserve manipulation of information by the CE when the influence of storage function was removed. A PET activation study was performed with four cognitive tasks, crossing conditions of temporary storage and manipulation of information. The manipulation of information induced an activation in the right (BA 10/46) and left (BA 9/6) middle frontal gyrus and in the left parietal area (BA7). The interaction between the storage and manipulation conditions did not reveal any significant changes in activation. These results are in agreement with the hypothesis that CE functions are distributed between anterior and posterior brain areas, but could also reflect a simultaneous involvement of controlled (frontal) and automatic (parietal) attentional systems. In the other hand, the absence of interaction between the storage and manipulation conditions demonstrates that the CE is not necessarily related to the presence of a memory load.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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