Using event-related fMRI to assess delay-period activity during performance of spatial and nonspatial working memory tasks

Brain Res Brain Res Protoc. 2000 Feb;5(1):57-66. doi: 10.1016/s1385-299x(99)00053-7.


Event-related experimental design and analysis techniques for functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) take advantage of the intrinsic temporal resolution of fMRI to permit investigation of complex human behaviors on the time scale over which they can occur. The protocol described in this report permits the effective isolation and assessment of variance in the fMRI signal that is attributable solely to the delay portion of delayed-response tasks. It permits, therefore, evaluation of the purely mnemonic portions of working memory tasks without requiring the "cognitive subtraction" of nonmnemonic components of such tasks, such as visual processing and motor output. Features of this event-related fMRI technique include the empirical derivation of an impulse response function (IRF) from each subject participating in the experiment, single-subject and random effects group analyses, use of t-values of dependent measures, and the use of regions of interest (ROI) to improve the sensitivity of a priori contrasts. This report provides a detailed exposition of the research methodology of our event-related fMRI technique, the rationale behind many of its critical features, and examples of its application to two empirical datasets.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Caudate Nucleus / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Conditioning, Psychological / physiology
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Reading
  • Regression Analysis
  • Verbal Learning / physiology*