Human dorsal and ventral auditory streams subserve rehearsal-based and echoic processes during verbal working memory


To hear a sequence of words and repeat them requires sensory-motor processing and something more - temporary storage. We investigated neural mechanisms of verbal memory by using fMRI and a task designed to tease apart perceptually based (“echoic”) memory from phonological-articulatory memory. Sets of two- or three-word pairs were presented bimodally, followed by a cue indicating from which modality (auditory or visual) items were to be retrieved and rehearsed over a delay. Although delay-period activation in the planum temporale (PT) was insensible to the source modality and showed sustained delay-period activity, the superior temporal gyrus (STG) activated more vigorously when the retrieved items had arrived to the auditory modality and showed transient delay-period activity. Functional connectivity analysis revealed two topographically distinct fronto-temporal circuits, with STG coactivating more strongly with ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and PT coactivating more strongly with dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These argue for separate contributions of ventral and dorsal auditory streams in verbal working memory. Copyright ©2005 by Elsevier Inc.