The right parietal lobe is critical for visual working memory

Marian E Berryhill, Ingrid R Olson
Neuropsychologia 2008, 46 (7): 1767-74
Visual working memory (VWM) permits the maintenance of object identities and their locations across brief delays such as those accompanying eye movements. Recent neuroimaging studies have emphasized the role of the posterior parietal lobe in this process although the specific nature of this involvement in VWM remains controversial. Neuroimaging findings suggest that the parietal lobe may have a general role in remembering various types of visual information whereas neuropsychological findings suggest that parietal involvement is primarily related to motor spatial attention and spatial memory. In the present study, patients with unilateral right parietal lobe damage, lacking symptoms of neglect, were tested in several VWM old/new recognition tasks. Parietal damage lead to impaired performance on all VWM tasks, including spatial, object, and object/spatial conjunction tasks. Deficits were found across several stimulus categories. These results provide neuropsychological support for neuroimaging results, and more generally indicate that the parietal lobe serves a general role in diverse forms of VWM.

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