Frontal activations associated with accessing and evaluating information in working memory: an fMRI study

Neuroimage. 2003 Nov;20(3):1531-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2003.07.016.


To investigate the involvement of frontal cortex in accessing and evaluating information in working memory, we used a variant of a Sternberg paradigm and compared brain activations between positive and negative responses (known to differentially tax access/evaluation processes). Participants remembered two trigrams in each trial and were then cued to discard one of them and maintain the other one as the target set. After a delay, a probe letter was presented and participants made decisions about whether or not it was in the target set. Several frontal areas--anterior cingulate (BA32), middle frontal gyrus (bilateral BA9, right BA10, and right BA46), and left inferior frontal gyrus (BA44/45)--showed increased activity when participants made correct negative responses relative to when they made correct positive responses. No areas activated significantly more for the positive responses than for the negative responses. It is suggested that the multiple frontal areas involved in the test phase of this task may reflect several component processes that underlie more general frontal functions.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Mental Processes / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation