Using fmri to examine the brain-bases of working memory

Michael A. Motes, Ehsan Shokri Kojori, Neena K. Rao, Ilana J. Bennett, Bart Rypma

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Considerable knowledge has been gained about the brain bases of working memory through research with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). However, using fMRI to explore the component processes that support working memory is difficult due to the timing of component processes and the lag of the hemodynamic response underlying the blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) response in fMRI. Resolving controversies regarding the role of various brain regions in encoding, maintaining, retrieving, searching, and comparing information held in working memory requires isolating BOLD signal changes in response to the engagement of each of these component processes. A variety of fMRI experimental design and analysis techniques have been used for this purpose. These have included regression analyses with models based on canonical or subject-derived hemodynamic response functions, varying the duration of component process intervals, using component process intervals that exceed the ideal time needed for the hemodynamic response to return to baseline, regression modeling of parts of component process intervals, and including partial-trials in which only a subset of the component processes are engaged. The present chapter provides an overview of the technical challenges in using fMRI to examine the brain bases of working memory component processes, briefly reviews study designs and analysis methods that have been used to explore the brain bases of working memory, and offers suggestions for future research directions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWorking Memory
Subtitle of host publicationCapacity, Developments and Improvement Techniques
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9781617619809
StatePublished - Feb 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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