Replication and further studies of neural mechanisms of spatial mnemonic processing in humans.

Zarahn, E, Aguirre GK, D’Esposito.  2000.  Replication and further studies of neural mechanisms of spatial mnemonic processing in humans., 2000 Jan. Brain Research: Cognitive Brain Research. 9(1):1-17.


Changes in neuronal firing rates during periods of time when subjects are required to remember information (retention delays) have been reported in non-human primates. In humans, tests for such functional changes using hemodynamic markers of neural activity have typically relied on cognitive subtraction. However, the temporal resolution of fMRI allows a more direct test than that afforded by cognitive subtraction of the idea that certain brain regions may increase their neural activity during retention delays in humans. Using a method that exploits this temporal resolution, increased functional activity attributable to a retention delay for spatial information in regions proximate to/within the right frontal eye field and the right superior parietal lobule were detected (in four out of four and three out of four subjects, respectively; this is an internal replication of the results of [E. Zarahn, G.K. Aguirre, M. D’Esposito, Temporal isolation of the neural correlates of spatial mnemonic processing with fMRI, Cognit. Brain Res., 7 (1999) 255-268. ]). Second, a model in which ventral and not dorsal prefrontal cortex in humans is involved in simply maintaining spatial information was tested. The results disputed this model as increases in fMRI signal attributable to the retention delay were detected more frequently in dorsal than ventral prefrontal cortex. Third, a model which posited that the intensity of neural activity is causally related to the accuracy of spatial mnemonic representation was tested by comparing retention delay signal between correct and incorrect trials. The results did not support this model in any of the regions tested.



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