Common prefrontal activations during working memory, episodic memory, and semantic memory

Neuropsychologia. 2003;41(3):371-7. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3932(02)00168-9.


Regions of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) are typically activated in many different cognitive functions. In most studies, the focus has been on the role of specific PFC regions in specific cognitive domains, but more recently similarities in PFC activations across cognitive domains have been stressed. Such similarities may suggest that a region mediates a common function across a variety of cognitive tasks. In this study, we compared the activation patterns associated with tests of working memory, semantic memory and episodic memory. The results converged on a general involvement of four regions across memory tests. These were located in left frontopolar cortex, left mid-ventrolateral PFC, left mid-dorsolateral PFC and dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. These findings provide evidence that some PFC regions are engaged during many different memory tests. The findings are discussed in relation to theories about the functional contribution of the PFC regions and the architecture of memory.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed