- Developmental differences in prefrontal activation during working memory maintenance and manipulation for different memory loads
- Developmental Science
- Volume | Issue number
- 14 | 4
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
The ability to keep information active in working memory is one of the cornerstones of cognitive development. Prior studies have demonstrated that regions which are important for working memory performance in adults, such as dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), and superior parietal cortex, become increasingly engaged across school-aged development. The primary goal of the present functional MRI study was to investigate the involvement of these regions in the development of working memory manipulation relative to maintenance functions under different loads. We measured activation in DLPFC, VLPFC, and superior parietal cortex during the delay period of a verbal working memory task in 11-13-year-old children and young adults. We found evidence for age-related behavioral improvements in working memory and functional changes within DLPFC and VLPFC activation patterns. Although activation profiles of DLPFC and VLPFC were similar, group differences were most pronounced for right DLPFC. Consistent with prior studies, right DLPFC showed an interaction between age and condition (i.e. manipulation versus maintenance), specifically at the lower loads. This interaction was characterized by increased activation for manipulation relative to maintenance trials in adults compared to children. In contrast, we did not observe a significant age-dependent load sensitivity. These results suggest that age-related differences in the right DLPFC are specific to working memory manipulation and are not related to task difficulty and/or differences in short-term memory capacity.
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