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Prefrontal Cortex Activation Increases In Association With An Easier Variant of the Spatial Span Task
OWEN , A.M., DUNCAN, J. & ,
NeuroImage, 13, S301
Year of publication:
Although there is a general consensus that the human lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) is involved in working memory processes, current opinion is clearly divided over more specific theories concerning this region. One common finding is that the lateral PFC is simply responsive to cognitive demands of various kinds. Other research suggests that the PFC is involved in the implementation of strategies, a process that may lower cognitive demands. In order to test these hypotheses, a recent PET study was carried out comparing two versions of a spatial span task that differed only in the spatial locations of the stimuli. Additional dorsolateral PFC (DLPFC) activation was observed in relation to the spatial span variant that involved a more orderly array, despite almost all subjects reporting this as the easier task. Subjects also reported applying ìchunkingî strategies to the ordered array spans only. This preliminary evidence suggested that an ìeasierî task may yield activation in the DLPFC. In the present study, fMRI was used to test this hypothesis more explicitly.