The Right Frontopolar Cortex Is Involved in Visual-Spatial Prospective Memory

Costa, Alberto; Oliveri, Massimiliano; Barban, Francesco; Bonnì, Sonia; Koch, Giacomo; Caltagirone, Carlo; Carlesimo, Giovanni A.
February 2013
PLoS ONE;Feb2013, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p1
Academic Journal
The involvement of frontopolar cortex in mediating prospective memory processes has been evidenced by various studies, mainly by means of neuroimaging techniques. Recently, one transcranial magnetic stimulation study documented that transient inhibition of left Brodmann Area (BA) 10 impaired verbal prospective memory. This result raises the issue of whether the BA 10 involvement in prospective memory functioning may be modulated by the physical characteristics of the stimuli used. The present study aimed to investigate the role of the frontopolar cortex in visual-spatial PM by means of the application of inhibitory theta-burst stimulation. Twelve volunteers were evaluated after inhibitory theta-burst stimulation over left BA 10, right BA10 and CZ (control condition). In the prospective memory procedure, sequences of four spatial positions (black squares) each were presented. During the inter-sequence delay, subjects had to reproduce the sequence in the observed order (ongoing task forward) or the reverse order (backward). At the occurrence of a target position, subjects had to press a key on the keyboard (prospective memory score). Recall and recognition of the target positions were also tested. We found that prospective memory accuracy was lower after theta-burst stimulation over right BA10 than CZ (p<0.01), whereas it was comparable in left BA10 and CZ conditions. No significant difference was found among the three conditions on recall and recognition of target positions and on ongoing task performance. Our findings provide a novel strong evidence for a specific involvement of right frontopolar cortex in visual-spatial prospective memory. In the context of previous data providing evidence for left BA 10 involvement in verbal prospective memory, our results also suggest material-specific lateralization of prospective memory processes in BA 10.


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