Journal Article

Dissociation of Verbal Working Memory System Components Using a Delayed Serial Recall Task

Jason M. Chein and Julie A. Fiez

in Cerebral Cortex

Volume 11, issue 11, pages 1003-1014
Published in print November 2001 | ISSN: 1047-3211
Published online November 2001 | e-ISSN: 1460-2199 | DOI:
Dissociation of Verbal Working Memory System Components Using a Delayed Serial Recall Task

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Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was used to investigate the neural substrates of component processes in verbal working memory. Based on behavioral research using manipulations of verbal stimulus type to dissociate storage, rehearsal, and executive components of verbal working memory, we designed a delayed serial recall task requiring subjects to encode, maintain, and overtly recall sets of verbal items for which phonological similarity, articulatory length, and lexical status were manipulated. By using a task with temporally extended trials, we were able to exploit the temporal resolution afforded by fMRI to partially isolate neural contributions to encoding, maintenance, and retrieval stages of task performance. Several regions commonly associated with maintenance, including supplementary motor, premotor, and inferior frontal areas, were found to be active across all three trial stages. Additionally, we found that left inferior frontal and supplementary motor regions showed patterns of stimulus and temporal sensitivity implicating them in distinct aspects of articulatory rehearsal, while no regions showed a pattern of sensitivity consistent with a role in phonological storage. Regional modulation by task difficulty was further investigated as a measure of executive processing. We interpret our findings as they relate to notions about the cognitive architecture underlying verbal working memory performance.

Journal Article.  10459 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuroscience

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