Neural system for updating object working memory from different sources: Sensory stimuli or long-term memory

Jennifer K. Roth, Susan M. Courtney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Working memory (WM) is the active maintenance of currently relevant information so that it is available for use. A crucial component of WM is the ability to update the contents when new information becomes more relevant than previously maintained information. New information can come from different sources, including from sensory stimuli (SS) or from long-term memory (LTM). Updating WM may involve a single neural system regardless of source, distinct systems for each source, or a common network with additional regions involved specifically in sensory or LTM processes. The current series of experiments indicates that a single fronto-parietal network (including supplementary motor area, parietal, left inferior frontal junction, middle frontal gyrus) is active in updating WM regardless of the source of information. Bilateral cuneus was more active during updating WM from LTM than updating from SS, but the activity in this region was attributable to recalling information from LTM regardless of whether that information was to be entered into WM for future use or not. No regions were found to be more active during updating from SS than updating from LTM. Functional connectivity analysis revealed that different regions within this common update network were differentially more correlated with visual processing regions when participants updated from SS, and more correlated with LTM processing regions when participants updated from the contents of LTM. These results suggest that a single neural mechanism is responsible for controlling the contents of WM regardless of whether that information originates from a sensory stimulus or from LTM. This network of regions involved in updating WM interacts with the rest of the brain differently depending on the source of newly relevant information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)617-630
Number of pages14
JournalNeuroImage
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 15 2007

Keywords

  • Attention
  • Cognitive control
  • Frontal
  • Long-term memory
  • Parietal
  • Working memory
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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