Accumulating evidence from non-human primates and computational modeling suggests that dopaminergic signals arising from the midbrain (substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area) mediate striatal gating of the prefrontal cortex during the selective updating of working memory. Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging, we explored the neural mechanisms underlying the selective updating of information stored in working memory. Participants were scanned during a novel working memory task that parses the neurophysiology underlying working memory maintenance, overwriting, and selective updating. Analyses revealed a functionally coupled network consisting of a midbrain region encompassing the substantia nigra/ventral tegmental area, caudate, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex that was selectively engaged during working memory updating compared to the overwriting and maintenance of working memory content. Further analysis revealed differential midbrain-dorsolateral prefrontal interactions during selective updating between low-performing and high-performing individuals. These findings highlight the role of this meso-cortico-striatal circuitry during the selective updating of working memory in humans, which complements previous research in behavioral neuroscience and computational modeling.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cognitive Neuroscience