Prefrontal cortex and working memory processes

Neuroscience. 2006 Apr 28;139(1):251-61. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2005.07.003. Epub 2005 Dec 1.


Working memory is a mechanism for short-term active maintenance of information as well as for processing maintained information. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex has been known to participate in working memory. The analysis of task-related dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activity while monkeys performed a variety of working memory tasks revealed that delay-period activity is a neural correlate of a mechanism for temporary active maintenance of information, because this activity persisted throughout the delay period, showed selectivity to a particular visual feature, and was related to correct behavioral performances. Information processing can be considered as a change of the information represented by a population of neural activities during the progress of the trial. Using population vectors calculated by a population of task-related dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activities, we demonstrated the temporal change of information represented by a population of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activities during performances of spatial working memory tasks. Cross-correlation analysis using spike firings of simultaneously isolated pairs of neurons reveals widespread functional interactions among neighboring neurons, especially neurons having delay-period activity, and their dynamic modulation depending on the context of the trial. Functional interactions among neurons and their dynamic modulation could be a mechanism of information processing in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Models, Animal
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology