Working memory: neurobiological and neuropsychological issues

Zakład Neuropsychologii Klinicznej Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika w Toruniu Collegium Medicum im L. Rydygiera w Bydgoszczy
Psychiatria polska (Impact Factor: 0.73). 01/2006; 40(3):383-99.
Source: PubMed


Working memory denotes an ability to remember information for a short-time and to manipulate it. The memory allows including correct information depending on the situation, to keep the information on present activities for a while and enables changing the reaction according to new criteria. The relation between working memory and efficiency of complex cognitive processes and also with the control of emotional processes, plasticity of behaviour and consciousness was demonstrated. Working memory is connected with the activity of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of the brain. Recently, it has been shown, that working memory disturbances play an important role in the aetiopathogenesis of psychiatric disturbances such as schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Working memory disturbances are also shown in a proportion of healthy first-degree relatives of patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorders. Working memory disturbances are presently regarded as a cognitive endophenotypic marker of vulnerability to these illnesses. In recent years, an association between working memory abilities and activity of different neurotransmitters, especially with the dopaminergic system in the brain, has been shown. Molecular genetic studies show an association between working memory abilities and polymorphism of the dopaminergic system genes in schizophrenia and polymorphism of BDNF gene in bipolar affective disorders. So far not much data about the genetics of working memory in healthy subjects has been gathered. Currently in Poland such research is carried on in the Clinical Neuropsychology Unit Nicolaus Copernicus University, Collegium Medicum in Bydgoszcz in cooperation with the Department of Adult Psychiatry and Laboratory of Psychiatric Genetics University of Medical Sciences in Poznań.

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