Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Abstract of the Day: Neuropsychology of 'What' and 'Where' Streams in Visual Working Memory

Finke K, Bublak P, & Zihl J. Visual spatial and visual pattern working memory: Neuropsychological evidence for a differential role of left and right dorsal visual brain. Neuropsychologia. 2005 Aug 16; [Epub ahead of print].

Department of Psychology, Neuropsychology, Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, Leopoldstrasse 13, D-80802 Munchen, Germany; Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany.

According to neurophysiological, neuroimaging, and behavioural evidence, visual working memory (WM) can be separated into a "what" and a "where" component, reflecting the duality of visual processing. Whereas a wealth of empirical data suggests a right-sided fronto-parietal network critical for the maintenance of spatial information, the cortical structures underlying maintenance of object information have remained controversial. Although visual object processing depends on ventral, inferior temporal areas, recent neuroimaging results suggest that maintenance of visual object information involves a left-sided or bilateral fronto-parietal network. The aim of the present study is to further clarify the role of the left and right parietal lobes for pattern and spatial visual WM. Seven patients with left-sided, seven with right-sided parietal brain injury, and two age-matched healthy control groups performed a delayed-matching-to-sample task using either pattern (shape) or spatial (location) information or both. In addition, eight patients with left-sided injury sparing parietal areas were tested to further examine the specific role of the left parietal cortex in pattern WM. Left parietal injury resulted in pattern WM impairment, only, while right parietal injury was associated with pattern and spatial WM deficits. Non-parietal injury was not associated with comparable deficits. These results suggest that visual spatial WM depends critically on right parietal areas; in contrast, pattern WM depends on both, left and right parietal areas.

PMID: 16111725 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]
Anthony H. Risser | |

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