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Spatial working memory in humans as revealed by PET


THE concept of working memory is central to theories of human cognition because working memory is essential to such human skills as language comprehension and deductive reasoning1–4. Working memory is thought to be composed of two parts, a set of buffers that temporarily store information in either a phonological or visuospatial form, and a central executive responsible for various computations such as mental arithmetic5,6. Although most data on working memory come from behavioural studies of normal and brain-injured humans7, there is evidence about its physiological basis from invasive studies of monkeys8–10. Here we report positron emission tomography (PET) studies of regional cerebral blood flow in normal humans that reveal activation in right-hemisphere prefrontal, occipital, parietal and premotor cortices accompanying spatial working memory processes. These results begin to uncover the circuitry of a working memory system in humans.

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Jonides, J., Smith, E., Koeppe, R. et al. Spatial working memory in humans as revealed by PET. Nature 363, 623–625 (1993).

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