PET evidence for an amodal verbal working memory system

Neuroimage. 1996 Apr;3(2):79-88. doi: 10.1006/nimg.1996.0009.


Current models of verbal working memory assume that modality-specific representations are translated into phonological representations before entering the working memory system. We report an experiment that tests this assumption. Positron emission tomography measures were taken while subjects performed a verbal working memory task. Stimuli were presented either visually or aurally, and a visual or auditory search tasks, respectively, was used as a control. Results revealed an almost complete overlap between the active memory areas regardless of input modality. These areas included dorsolateral frontal, Broca's area, SMA, and premotor cortex in the left hemisphere; bilateral superior and posterior parietal cortices and anterior cingulate; and right cerebellum. These results correspond well with previous research and suggest that verbal working memory is modality independent and is mediated by a circuit involving frontal, parietal, and cerebellar mechanisms.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / instrumentation*
  • Cerebellum / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology
  • Phonetics
  • Reference Values
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology
  • Speech Perception / physiology
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / instrumentation*
  • Verbal Learning / physiology*