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Neural Patterns in Linguistic Cortices Discriminate the Content of Verbal Working Memory


Kowialiewski, Benjamin; Van Calster, Laurens; Attout, Lucie; Phillips, Christophe; Majerus, Steve (2020). Neural Patterns in Linguistic Cortices Discriminate the Content of Verbal Working Memory. Cerebral Cortex, 30(5):2997-3014.

Abstract

An influential theoretical account of working memory (WM) considers that WM is based on direct activation of long-term memory knowledge. While there is empirical support for this position in the visual WM domain, direct evidence is scarce in the verbal WM domain. This question is critical for models of verbal WM, as the question of whether short-term maintenance of verbal information relies on direct activation within the long-term linguistic knowledge base or not is still debated. In this study, we examined the extent to which short-term maintenance of lexico-semantic knowledge relies on neural activation patterns in linguistic cortices, and this by using a fast encoding running span task for word and nonword stimuli minimizing strategic encoding mechanisms. Multivariate analyses showed specific neural patterns for the encoding and maintenance of word versus nonword stimuli. These patterns were not detectable anymore when participants were instructed to stop maintaining the memoranda. The patterns involved specific regions within the dorsal and ventral pathways, which are considered to support phonological and semantic processing to various degrees. This study provides novel evidence for a role of linguistic cortices in the representation of long-term memory linguistic knowledge during WM processing.

Abstract

An influential theoretical account of working memory (WM) considers that WM is based on direct activation of long-term memory knowledge. While there is empirical support for this position in the visual WM domain, direct evidence is scarce in the verbal WM domain. This question is critical for models of verbal WM, as the question of whether short-term maintenance of verbal information relies on direct activation within the long-term linguistic knowledge base or not is still debated. In this study, we examined the extent to which short-term maintenance of lexico-semantic knowledge relies on neural activation patterns in linguistic cortices, and this by using a fast encoding running span task for word and nonword stimuli minimizing strategic encoding mechanisms. Multivariate analyses showed specific neural patterns for the encoding and maintenance of word versus nonword stimuli. These patterns were not detectable anymore when participants were instructed to stop maintaining the memoranda. The patterns involved specific regions within the dorsal and ventral pathways, which are considered to support phonological and semantic processing to various degrees. This study provides novel evidence for a role of linguistic cortices in the representation of long-term memory linguistic knowledge during WM processing.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Cognitive Neuroscience
Life Sciences > Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
Uncontrolled Keywords:Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience
Language:English
Date:14 May 2020
Deposited On:13 Apr 2022 11:08
Last Modified:14 Apr 2022 20:00
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:1047-3211
OA Status:Closed
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhz290
PubMed ID:31813984