The neural correlates of auditory-verbal short-term memory: a voxel-based lesion-symptom mapping study on 103 patients after glioma removal

Alberto Pisoni, Giulia Mattavelli, Alessandra Casarotti, Alessandro Comi, Marco Riva, Lorenzo Bello, Costanza Papagno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relationship between verbal-auditory short-term memory (STM) and language is an open area of debate and contrasting hypotheses have been proposed, suggesting either that STM would strongly rely on language-related processes, or that it depends on a dedicated system related to language, but independent from it. In this study we examined 103 patients undergoing surgery for glioma resection in the left or right hemisphere, and we conducted a VLSM analysis on their behavioral performance on auditory-verbal STM, as well as on more general verbal and nonverbal tasks. The aim was to investigate whether the anatomical correlates of auditory-verbal STM were part of the language system or they were spatially segregated from it. VLSM results showed that digit span scores were linked to lesions in both the left supramarginal gyrus and superior-posterior temporal areas, as reported in the literature on patients with a selective deficit of auditory-verbal STM. Conversely, other verbal tasks involved areas only partly overlapping with those found for digit span, with repetition being affected by lesions in more anterior regions in the parietal, temporal, and frontal lobes, and word comprehension by lesions in a network including cortical and subcortical pathways in the temporal lobe. The present results, thus, show that auditory-verbal STM neural correlates are only partially overlapping with those supporting comprehension and production: while the left posterior-superior temporal cortex, involved in speech perception, takes part in both functions, the left supramarginal gyrus has a consistent and specific role only in STM, supporting the hypothesis of interacting but segregated networks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2199-2211
Number of pages13
JournalBrain Structure and Function
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Mapping/methods
  • Cerebral Cortex/physiopathology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe/physiopathology
  • Functional Laterality/physiology
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term/physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Parietal Lobe/physiopathology
  • Speech Perception/physiology
  • Temporal Lobe/physiopathology
  • Young Adult


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