A Neural Region of Abstract Working Memory

Nelson Cowan*, Dawei Li, Amanda Moffitt, Theresa M. Becker, Elizabeth A. Martin, J. Scott Saults, Shawn E. Christ

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Over 350 years ago, Descartes proposed that the neural basis of consciousness must be a brain region in which sensory inputs are combined. Using fMRI, we identified at least one such area for working memory, the limited information held in mind, described by William James as the trailing edge of consciousness. Specifically, a region in the left intraparietal sulcus was found to demonstrate load-dependent activity for either visual stimuli (colored squares) or a combination of visual and auditory stimuli (spoken letters). This result was replicated across two experiments with different participants and methods. The results suggest that this brain region, previously well known for working memory of visually presented materials, actually holds or refers to information from more than one modality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2852-2863
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cognitive Neuroscience
Volume23
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011

Keywords

  • SHORT-TERM-MEMORY
  • TRANSCRANIAL MAGNETIC STIMULATION
  • POSTERIOR PARIETAL CORTEX
  • INTRAPARIETAL SULCUS
  • CAPACITY LIMIT
  • HUMAN BRAIN
  • TIME-COURSE
  • ATTENTION
  • LOAD
  • INFORMATION

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