Domain-general involvement of the posterior frontolateral cortex in time-based resource-sharing in working memory: An fMRI study
Number of pages
SourceNeuroImage, 115, (2015), pp. 104-116
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ DCC CO
SW OZ DCC BI
SubjectAction, intention, and motor control; DI-BCB_DCC_Theme 2: Perception, Action and Control
Working memory is often defined in cognitive psychology as a system devoted to the simultaneous processing and maintenance of information. In line with the time-based resource-sharing model of working memory (TBRS; Barrouillet and Camos, 2015; Barrouillet et al., 2004), there is accumulating evidence that, when memory items have to be maintained while performing a concurrent activity, memory performance depends on the cognitive load of this activity, independently of the domain involved. The present study used fMRI to identify regions in the brain that are sensitive to variations in cognitive load in a domain-general way. More precisely, we aimed at identifying brain areas that activate during maintenance of memory items as a direct function of the cognitive load induced by both verbal and spatial concurrent tasks. Results show that the right IFJ and bilateral SPL/IPS are the only areas showing an increased involvement as cognitive load increases and do so in a domain general manner. When correlating the fMRI signal with the approximated cognitive load as defined by the TBRS model, it was shown that the main focus of the cognitive load-related activation is located in the right IFJ. The present findings indicate that the IFJ makes domain-general contributions to time-based resource-sharing in working memory and allowed us to generate the novel hypothesis by which the IFJ might be the neural basis for the process of rapid switching. We argue that the IFJ might be a crucial part of a central attentional bottleneck in the brain because of its inability to upload more than one task rule at once.
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