Working memory is the ability to employ recently seen or heard stimuli and apply them to changing cognitive context. Although much is known about language processing and visual working memory, the neurobiological basis of auditory working memory is less clear. Historically, part of the problem has been the difficulty in obtaining a robust animal model to study auditory short-term memory. In recent years there has been neurophysiological and lesion studies indicating a cortical network involving both temporal and frontal cortices. Studies specifically targeting the role of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in auditory working memory have suggested that dorsal and ventral prefrontal regions perform different roles during the processing of auditory mnemonic information, with the dorsolateral PFC performing similar functions for both auditory and visual working memory. In contrast, the ventrolateral PFC (VLPFC), which contains cells that respond robustly to auditory stimuli and that process both face and vocal stimuli may be an essential locus for both auditory and audiovisual working memory. These findings suggest a critical role for the VLPFC in the processing, integrating, and retaining of communication information. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled SI: Auditory working memory.
Keywords: Acoustic; Audiovisual; Frontal lobe; Monkey; Short-term memory.
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