Increased brain activity in frontal and parietal cortex underlies the development of visuospatial working memory capacity during childhood

J Cogn Neurosci. 2002 Jan 1;14(1):1-10. doi: 10.1162/089892902317205276.


The aim of this study was to identify changes in brain activity associated with the increase in working memory (WM) capacity that occurs during childhood and early adulthood. Functional MRI (fMRI) was used to measure brain activity in subjects between 9 and 18 years of age while they performed a visuospatial WM task and a baseline task. During performance of the WM task, the older children showed higher activation of cortex in the superior frontal and intraparietal cortex than the younger children did. A second analysis found that WM capacity was significantly correlated with brain activity in the same regions. These frontal and parietal areas are known to be involved in the control of attention and spatial WM. The development of the functionality in these areas may play an important role in cognitive development during childhood.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention / physiology
  • Child
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / growth & development
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / growth & development
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Space Perception / physiology*