Integration of diverse information in working memory within the frontal lobe

Nat Neurosci. 2000 Jan;3(1):85-90. doi: 10.1038/71156.


Ability to integrate diverse forms of information in current thought, or working memory, is essential for human reasoning and problem solving. We used functional imaging to identify brain regions preferentially involved in maintaining integrated versus unintegrated information in working memory. For equal amounts of verbal and spatial information, activation of prefrontal cortex was greater for maintaining integrated rather than unintegrated representations. Posterior brain regions showed the opposite pattern. These results demonstrate frontal-lobe specialization in maintaining working-memory representations that integrate verbal and spatial information. The role of prefrontal cortex in integrating multiple forms of information in working memory may underlie its unique contribution to high-level cognition that demands flexible mental representations.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Occipital Lobe / physiology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reference Values
  • Space Perception / physiology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology
  • Verbal Behavior / physiology