Parieto-frontal interactions in visual-object and visual-spatial working memory: Evidence from transcranial magnetic stimulation

M. Oliveri, P. Turriziani, G. A. Carlesimo, G. Koch, F. Tomaiuolo, M. Panella, C. Caltagirone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study aimed to investigate whether transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) can induce selective working memory (WM) deficits of visual-object versus visual-spatial information in normal humans. Thirty-five healthy subjects performed two computerized visual n-back tasks, in which they were required to memorize spatial locations or abstract patterns. In a first series of experiments, unilateral or bilateral TMS was delivered on posterior parietal and middle temporal regions of both hemispheres after various delays during the WM task. Bilateral temporal TMS increased reaction times (RTs) in the visual-object, whereas bilateral parietal TMS selectively increased RTs in the visual-spatial WM task. These effects were evident at a delay of 300 ms. Response accuracy was not affected by bilateral or unilateral TMS of either cortical region. In a second group of experiments, bilateral TMS was applied over the superior frontal gyrus (SFG) or the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). TMS of the SFG selectively increased RTs in the visual-spatial WM task, whereas TMS of the DLPFC interfered with both WM tasks, in terms of both accuracy and RTs. These effects were evident when TMS was applied after a delay of 600 ms, but not one of 300 ms. These findings confirm the segregation of WM buffers for object and spatial information in the posterior cortical regions. In the frontal cortex, the DLPFC appears to be necessary for WM computations regardless of the stimulus material.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)606-618
Number of pages13
JournalCerebral Cortex
Volume11
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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