Abstract

The mapping of cognitive functions to neural systems is a central goal of cognitive neuroscience. On the basis of homology with lesion and physiological studies in nonhuman primates, Brodmann's area (BA) 46/9 in the middle frontal gyrus (MFG) has been proposed as the cortical focus for both the storage as well as processing components of working memory in the human brain, but the evidence on the segregation of these components and their exact areal localization has been inconsistent. In order to study this issue and increase the temporal resolution of functional mapping, we disambiguated the storage component of working memory from sensory and motor responses by employing functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in spatial delayed-response (DR) tasks with long delay intervals and different conditions of demand. We here show that BA 46 can support a sustained mnemonic response for as long as 24 sec in a high-demand task and the signal change in this area exceeded that in the other prefrontal areas examined. Our findings support a conservation of functional architecture between human and nonhuman primate in showing that the MFG is prominently engaged in the storage of spatial information.

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