Article

Neurodevelopmental changes in verbal working memory load-dependency: an fMRI investigation.

Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, Department of Neurology, University of California, Los Angeles 90095-7334, USA.
NeuroImage (Impact Factor: 6.13). 07/2008; 42(4):1678-85. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2008.05.057
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Development of working memory (WM) aptitude parallels structural changes in the frontal-parietal association cortices important for performance within this cognitive domain. The cerebellum has been proposed to function in support of the postulated phonological loop component of verbal WM, and along with frontal and parietal cortices, has been shown to exhibit linear WM load-dependent activation in adults. It is not known if these kinds of WM load-dependent relationships exist for cerebro-cerebellar networks in developmental populations, and whether there are age-related changes in the nature of load-dependency between childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. The present study used fMRI and a verbal Sternberg WM task with three load levels to investigate developmental changes in WM load-dependent cerebro-cerebellar activation in a sample of 30 children, adolescents, and young adults between the ages of 7 and 28. The neural substrates of linear load-dependency were found to change with age. Among adolescents and adults, frontal, parietal and cerebellar regions showed linear load-dependency, or increasing activation under conditions of increasing WM load. In contrast, children recruited only left ventral prefrontal cortex in response to increasing WM load. These results demonstrate that, while children, adolescents, and young adults activate similar cerebro-cerebellar verbal working memory networks, the extent to which they rely on parietal and cerebellar regions in response to increasing task difficulty changes significantly between childhood and adolescence.

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