Prefrontal and parietal contributions to spatial working memory

C E Curtis
Neuroscience 2006 April 28, 139 (1): 173-80
Functional neuroimaging studies consistently implicate a widespread network of human cortical brain areas that together support spatial working memory. This review summarizes our recent functional magnetic resonance imaging studies of humans performing delayed-saccades. These studies have isolated persistent activity in dorsal prefrontal regions, like the frontal eye fields, and the posterior parietal cortex during the maintenance of positional information. We aim to gain insight into the type of information coded by this activity. By manipulating the sensory and motor demands of the working memory task, we have been able to modulate the frontal eye fields and posterior parietal cortex delay-period activity. These findings are discussed in the context of other neurophysiological and lesion-based data and some hypotheses regarding the differential contributions of frontal and parietal areas to spatial working memory are offered. Namely, retrospective sensory coding of space may be more prominent in the posterior parietal cortex, while prospective motor coding of space may be more prominent in the frontal eye fields.


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