Functional coupling of human prefrontal and premotor areas during cognitive manipulation

Mitsunari Abe, Takashi Hanakawa, Yoshihiro Takayama, Chihiro Kuroki, Seiji Ogawa, Hidenao Fukuyama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence indicates the involvement of the rostral part of the dorsal premotor cortex (pre-PMd) in executive processes during working memory tasks. However, it remains unclear what the executive function of pre-PMd is in relation to that of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) and how these two areas interact. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), brain activity was examined during a delayed-encoding recognition task. Fifteen subjects had prelearned several four-code standard sequences and super sequences (SUPs) consisting of a train of two standard sequences to form "chunks" in long-term memory. During fMRI, subjects remembered eight-code encoding stimuli presented as an SUP or two unlinked standard sequences (2STs). A memory probe prompted the subjects to recognize codes across two chunks (ACROSS) or within a single chunk. A 2 X 2 factorial design was used to test two types of working memory manipulation: (1) a reductive operation selecting codes from chunks ("segmenting") and (2) a synthetic operation converting unlinked codes into a sequence ("binding"). Response time data supported the behavioral effects of each operation. Event-related fMRI showed that the "segmenting operation" activated the DLPFC bilaterally, whereas the "binding operation" enhanced the left pre-PMd activity. Activity in the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex suggested its involvement in the retrieval of task-relevant information from long-term memory. Furthermore, effective connectivity analysis indicated that the left pre-PMd and ipsilateral DLPFC interacted specifically during the ACROSS recognition of 2STs, the condition that involved both operations. We propose specific neural substrates for working memory manipulation: the DLPFC for segmenting/attentional selection and the pre-PMd for binding/sequencing. The functional coupling between the DLPFC and pre-PMd appears to play a role in combining these distinct operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3429-3438
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Mar 28
Externally publishedYes


  • Chunk
  • Dorsal premotor cortex
  • Memory
  • Mental manipulation
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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