Neural correlates of visual working memory: fMRI amplitude predicts task performance

Neuron. 2002 Aug 29;35(5):975-87. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(02)00817-6.


We used fMRI to investigate how moment-to-moment neural activity contributes to success or failure on individual trials of a visual working memory (WM) task. We found that different nodes of a distributed cortical network were activated to a greater extent for correct compared to incorrect trials during stimulus encoding, memory maintenance during delays, and at test. A logistic regression analysis revealed that the fMRI signal amplitude during the delay interval in a network of frontoparietal regions predicted successful performance on a trial-by-trial basis. Differential delay activity occurred even for only those trials in which BOLD activity during encoding was strong, demonstrating that it was not a simple consequence of effective versus ineffective encoding. Our results indicate that accurate memory depends on strong sustained signals that span the delay interval of WM tasks.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*