Differential anterior prefrontal activation during the recognition stage of a spatial working memory task.
ABSTRACT Neuroimaging studies commonly show widespread activations in the prefrontal cortex during various forms of working memory and long-term memory tasks. However, the anterior prefrontal cortex (aPFC, Brodmann area 10) has been mainly associated with retrieval in episodic memory, and its role in working memory is less clear. We conducted an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging study to examine brain activations in relation to recognition in a spatial delayed-recognition task. Similar to the results from previous findings, several frontal areas were strongly activated during the recognition phase of the task, including the aPFC, the lateral PFC and the anterior cingulate cortex. Although the aPFC was more active during the recognition phase, it was also active during the delay phase of the spatial working memory task. In addition, the aPFC showed greater activity in response to negative probes (non-targets) than to positive probes (targets). While our analyses focused on examining signal changes in the aPFC, other prefrontal regions showed similar effects and none of the areas were more active in response to the positive probes than to the negative probes. Our findings support the conclusion that the aPFC is involved in working memory and particularly in processes that distinguish target and non-target stimuli during recognition.
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ABSTRACT: Recent negative focus on women's academic abilities has fueled disputes over gender disparities in the sciences. The controversy derives, in part, from women's relatively poorer performance in aptitude tests, many of which require skills of spatial reasoning. We used functional magnetic imaging to examine the neural structure underlying shifts in women's performance of a spatial reasoning task induced by positive and negative stereotypes. Three groups of participants performed a task involving imagined rotations of the self. Prior to scanning, the positive stereotype group was exposed to a false but plausible stereotype of women's superior perspective-taking abilities; the negative stereotype group was exposed to the pervasive stereotype that men outperform women on spatial tasks; and the control group received neutral information. The significantly poorer performance we found in the negative stereotype group corresponded to increased activation in brain regions associated with increased emotional load. In contrast, the significantly improved performance we found in the positive stereotype group was associated with increased activation in visual processing areas and, to a lesser degree, complex working memory processes. These findings suggest that stereotype messages affect the brain selectively, with positive messages producing relatively more efficient neural strategies than negative messages.Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 04/2007; 2(1):12-9. · 6.13 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Musical competence may confer cognitive advantages that extend beyond processing of familiar musical sounds. Behavioural evidence indicates a general enhancement of both working memory and attention in musicians. It is possible that musicians, due to their training, are better able to maintain focus on task-relevant stimuli, a skill which is crucial to working memory. We measured the blood oxygenation-level dependent (BOLD) activation signal in musicians and non-musicians during working memory of musical sounds to determine the relation among performance, musical competence and generally enhanced cognition. All participants easily distinguished the stimuli. We tested the hypothesis that musicians nonetheless would perform better, and that differential brain activity would mainly be present in cortical areas involved in cognitive control such as the lateral prefrontal cortex. The musicians performed better as reflected in reaction times and error rates. Musicians also had larger BOLD responses than non-musicians in neuronal networks that sustain attention and cognitive control, including regions of the lateral prefrontal cortex, lateral parietal cortex, insula, and putamen in the right hemisphere, and bilaterally in the posterior dorsal prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate gyrus. The relationship between the task performance and the magnitude of the BOLD response was more positive in musicians than in non-musicians, particularly during the most difficult working memory task. The results confirm previous findings that neural activity increases during enhanced working memory performance. The results also suggest that superior working memory task performance in musicians rely on an enhanced ability to exert sustained cognitive control. This cognitive benefit in musicians may be a consequence of focused musical training.PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(6):e11120. · 4.09 Impact Factor