Is the posterior parietal lobe involved in working memory retrieval? Evidence from patients with bilateral parietal lobe damage

Marian E Berryhill, Ingrid R Olson
Neuropsychologia 2008, 46 (7): 1775-86
Neuroimaging evidence suggests that the parietal lobe has an important role in memory retrieval, yet neuropsychology is largely silent on this topic. Recently, we reported that unilateral parietal lobe damage impairs various forms of visual working memory when tested by old/new recognition. Here, we investigate whether parietal lobe working memory deficits are linked to problems at retrieval. We tested two patients with bilateral parietal lobe damage in a series of visual working memory tasks that probed recall and old/new recognition. Stimuli were presented sequentially and several stimulus categories were tested. The results of these experiments show that parietal lobe damage disproportionately impairs old/new recognition as compared to cued recall across stimulus categories. The observed performance dissociation suggests that the posterior parietal lobe plays a particularly vital role in working memory retrieval.

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