Content-specific codes of parametric auditory working memory in humans

Neuroimage. 2018 Dec:183:254-262. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.08.024. Epub 2018 Aug 11.


Brain activity in frontal regions has been found to represent frequency information with a parametric code during working memory delay phases. The mental representation of frequencies has furthermore been shown to be modality independent in non-human primate electrophysiology and human EEG studies, suggesting frontal regions encoding quantitative information in a supramodal manner. A recent fMRI study using multivariate pattern analysis (MVPA) supports an overlapping multimodal network for the maintenance of visual and tactile frequency information over frontal and parietal brain regions. The present study extends the investigation of working memory representation of frequency information to the auditory domain. To this aim, we used MVPA on fMRI data recorded during an auditory frequency maintenance task. A support vector regression analysis revealed working memory information in auditory association areas and, consistent with earlier findings of parametric working memory, in a frontoparietal network. A direct comparison to an analogous dataset of vibrotactile parametric working memory revealed an overlap of information coding in prefrontal regions, particularly in the right inferior frontal gyrus. Therefore, our findings indicate that the prefrontal cortex represents frequency-specific working memory content irrespective of the modality as has been now also revealed for the auditory modality.

Keywords: Abstract quantity; Acoustic flutter; Auditory; Frequency discrimination; MVPA; Parametric; Vibrotactile; Working memory; fMRI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Touch Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult