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A selective representation of task-relevant knowledge in the human and monkey brain
13th Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, S25
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In specific regions of frontal and parietal cortex, neuroimaging shows a pattern of multiple-demand (MD) activity - increased activation associated with many different cognitive demands. In the frontal lobe, MD activity is seen in and around the inferior frontal sulcus, in the frontal operculum/anterior insula, and in the anterior cingulate/supplementary motor area. Similar activity is also seen along the intraparietal sulcus. I suggest that MD regions constitute a flexible working memory, constructing and holding together the facts, rules and requirements bearing on current behaviour. While many accounts of prefrontal function depend on complex executive processes, we find strong activation of MD regions simply associated with new, attended visual events requiring no decision or response. Single cell studies in the behaving monkey, both in our laboratory and many others, show how prefrontal cells are selectively tuned to information of current task relevance. I suggest that, by supporting related processing throughout the brain, the MD representation organizes or coordinates coherent thought and behavior.