Visual information is largely processed through two pathways in the primate brain: an object pathway from the primary visual cortex to the temporal cortex (ventral stream) and a spatial pathway to the parietal cortex (dorsal stream). Whether and to what extent dissociation exists in the human prefrontal cortex (PFC) has long been debated. We examined anatomical connections from functionally defined areas in the temporal and parietal cortices to the PFC, using noninvasive functional and diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance imaging. The right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) received converging input from both streams, while the right superior frontal gyrus received input only from the dorsal stream. Interstream functional connectivity to the IFG was dynamically recruited only when both object and spatial information were processed. These results suggest that the human PFC receives dissociated and converging visual pathways, and that the right IFG region serves as an integrator of the two types of information.
"This bilateralization of activation agreed with the hemispheric asymmetry reduction in older (HAROLD) model, and it has been attributed to reduced capacities in elderly individuals to retain information in WM during the task execution, leading to a switch from proactive (seen in young adults) to reactive control strategies . The visual system is divided into a ventral pathway, extending from the inferior temporal cortex to the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), responsible for object identification, and a dorsal stream, extending from posterior parietal cortex (PPC) to dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), responsible for spatial location of objects . According to this view, the SWM is mediated by a dorsal frontoparietal network, whereas the OWM is mediated by ventral temporal and frontal regions . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This fMRI study deals with the neural correlates of spatial and objects working memory (SWM and OWM) in elderly subjects (ESs) and idiopathic Parkinson's disease (IPD). Normal aging and IPD can be associated with a WM decline. In IPD population, some studies reported similar SWM and OWM deficits; others reported a greater SWM than OWM impairment. In the present fMRI research, we investigated whether compensated IPD patients and elderly subjects with comparable performance during the execution of SWM and OWM tasks would present differences in WM-related brain activations. We found that the two groups recruited a prevalent left frontoparietal network when performing the SWM task and a bilateral network during OWM task execution. More specifically, the ESs showed bilateral frontal and subcortical activations in SWM, at difference with the IPD patients who showed a strict left lateralized network, consistent with frontostriatal degeneration in IPD. The overall brain activation in the IPD group was more extended as number of voxels with respect to ESs, suggesting underlying compensatory mechanisms. In conclusion, notwithstanding comparable WM performance, the two groups showed consistencies and differences in the WM activated networks. The latter underline the compensatory processes of normal typical and pathological aging.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Patients with unilateral spatial neglect (USN) often show impaired performance in spatial working memory tasks, apart from the difficulty retrieving "left-sided" spatial data from long-term memory, shown in the "piazza effect" by Bisiach and colleagues. This study's aim was to compare the effect of the spatial position of a visual object on immediate and delayed memory performance in USN patients. Specifically, immediate verbal recall performance, tested using a simultaneous presentation of four visual objects in four quadrants, was compared with memory in a later-provided recognition task, in which objects were individually shown at the screen center. Unlike healthy controls, USN patients showed a left-side disadvantage and a vertical bias in the immediate free recall task (69% vs. 42% recall for right- and left-sided objects, respectively). In the recognition task, the patients correctly recognized half of "old" items, and their correct rejection rate was 95.5%. Importantly, when the analysis focused on previously recalled items (in the immediate task), no statistically significant difference was found in the delayed recognition of objects according to their original quadrant of presentation. Furthermore, USN patients were able to recollect the correct original location of the recognized objects in 60% of the cases, well beyond chance level. This suggests that the memory trace formed in these cases was not only semantic but also contained a visuospatial tag. Finally, successful recognition of objects missed in recall trials points to formation of memory traces for neglected contralesional objects, which may become accessible to retrieval processes in explicit memory.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Little is known about the emergence of structural asymmetry of white matter tracts during early brain development. We examined whether and when asymmetry in diffusion parameters of limbic and association white matter pathways emerged in humans in 23 brains ranging from 15 gestational weeks (GW) up to 3 years of age (11 ex vivo and 12 in vivo cases) using high-angular resolution diffusion imaging tractography. Age-related development of laterality was not observed in a limbic connectional pathway (cingulum bundle or fornix). Among the studied cortico-cortical association pathways (inferior longitudinal fasciculus [ILF], inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, and arcuate fasciculus), only the ILF showed development of age-related laterality emerging as early as the second trimester. Comparisons of ages older and younger than 40 GW revealed a leftward asymmetry in the cingulum bundle volume and a rightward asymmetry in apparent diffusion coefficient and leftward asymmetry in fractional anisotropy in the ILF in ages older than 40 GW. These results suggest that morphometric asymmetry in cortical areas precedes the emergence of white matter pathway asymmetry. Future correlative studies will investigate whether such asymmetry is anatomically/genetically driven or associated with functional stimulation.
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