Towards a Solution for Performance Related Confounds: Frontal, Striatal and Parietal Activation During a Continuous Spatiotemporal Working Memory Manipulation Task

Brain Imaging Behav. 2013 Mar;7(1):85-90. doi: 10.1007/s11682-012-9194-z.


Working memory plays a role in various forms of psychopathology. However, working memory consists of multiple theoretical components that may be differently taxed by various specific types of task, and brain activation differences between patients and healthy controls may result from differences in task performance. This makes it difficult to interpret such results in terms of disease-related dysfunctions in affected regions or networks. The aim of the current study was to determine the brain activation related to the updating of spatiotemporal content of working memory, in such a way that performance-related confounds in future clinical studies would be minimized. Nineteen healthy volunteers performed a task involving a continuous updating process during fMRI measurement. A frontostriatal network including medial and lateral prefrontal cortex, inferior frontal cortex, premotor cortex, supplementary motor cortex, thalamus and putamen was found to be related to the updating process. The results constrain the set of brain regions plausibly related to the specific updating component of working memory. Further, the task design may be of use in future studies of pathological conditions such as schizophrenia due to the minimization of potential confounds.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Executive Function / physiology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Neostriatum / physiology*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology
  • Time Perception / physiology