Updating working memory for words: A PET activation study

C. Richard Clark, Gary F. Egan, Alexander C. McFarlane, Phillip Morris, Darren Weber, Cynon Sonkkilla, Jackie Marcina, H. J. Tochon-Danguy

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    76 Citations (Scopus)


    A PET study of 10 normal individuals was carried out to investigate the cerebral regions involved in the controlled updating of verbal working memory. Subjects viewed single concrete words on a computer monitor and detected occasional target words in an attended color. In the activating condition, a target was defined as a word that was identical to the previous word presented in the attended color. In the control condition, the target was a predesignated word. The same word lists, target probabilities, and target response demands were used for both conditions, with interword intervals constrained to ensure equivalence in the demand for target rehearsal. A comparison of the conditions found bilateral activation of dorsolateral prefrontal (middle frontal gyrus; MFG) and inferior parietal (supramarginal gyrus; SMG) cortical regions. Activation of the MFG is taken to reflect executive control by prefrontal regions over the working memory updating process linking posterior representations of the anticipated target stimulus to anterior representations of the planned response. It is proposed that the updating of the stimulus link is mediated via connections between the MFG and SMG. The role of the SMG as an amodal region binding the various modal representations in posterior association cortex of the word being retained in working memory is considered and reviewed. It is suggested that the combined activation of these regions is related to the executive control of goal-setting in planned behavior.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)42-54
    Number of pages13
    JournalHuman Brain Mapping
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2000


    • PET
    • Stimulus
    • Working memory


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