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      Computerized spatial delayed recognition span task: a specific tool to assess visuospatial working memory

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          Abstract

          A new tablet device version (IOS platform) of the Spatial Delayed Recognition Span Task (SDRST) was developed with the aim of investigating visuospatial Working Memory (WM) abilities based on touchscreen technology. This new WM testing application will be available to download for free in Apple Store app (“SDRST app”). In order to verify the feasibility of this computer-based task, we conducted three experiments with different manipulations and groups of participants. We were interested in investigating if (1) the SDRST is sensitive enough to tap into cognitive differences brought by aging and dementia; (2) different experimental manipulations work successfully; (3) cortical brain activations seen in other WM tasks are also demonstrated here; and (4) non-human primates are able to answer the task. Performance (scores and response time) was better for young than older adults and higher for the latter when compared to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients. All groups performed better with facial stimuli than with images of scenes and with emotional than with neutral stimuli. Electrophysiology data showed activation on prefrontal and frontal areas of scalp, theta band activity on the midline area, and gamma activity in left temporal area. There are all scalp regions known to be related to attention and WM. Besides those data, our sample of adult captive capuchin monkeys ( Sapajus libidinosus) answered the task above chance level. Taken together, these results corroborate the reliability of this new computer-based SDRST as a measure of visuospatial WM in clinical and non-clinical populations as well as in non-human primates. Its tablet app allows the task to be administered in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, homes, schools, laboratories, universities, and research institutions.

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          Most cited references 28

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            High-resolution EEG mapping of cortical activation related to working memory: effects of task difficulty, type of processing, and practice.

            Changes in cortical activity during working memory tasks were examined with electroencephalograms (EEGs) sampled from 115 channels and spatially sharpened with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based finite element deblurring. Eight subjects performed tasks requiring comparison of each stimulus to a preceding one on verbal or spatial attributes. A frontal midline theta rhythm increased in magnitude with increased memory load. Dipole models localized this signal to the region of the anterior cingulate cortex. A slow (low-frequency), parietocentral, alpha signal decreased with increased working memory load. These signals were insensitive to the type of stimulus attribute being processed. A faster (higher-frequency), occipitoparietal, alpha signal was relatively attenuated in the spatial version of the task, especially over the posterior right hemisphere. Theta and alpha signals increased, and overt performance improved, after practice on the tasks. Increases in theta with both increased task difficulty and with practice suggests that focusing attention required more effort after an extended test session. Decreased alpha in the difficult tasks indicates that this signal is inversely related to the amount of cortical resources allocated to task performance. Practice-related increases in alpha suggest that fewer cortical resources are required after skill development. These results serve: (i) to dissociate the effects of task difficulty and practice; (ii) to differentiate the involvement of posterior cortex in spatial versus verbal tasks; (iii) to localize frontal midline theta to the anteromedial cortex; and (iv) to demonstrate the feasibility of using anatomical MRIs to remove the blurring effect of the skull and scalp from the ongoing EEG. The results are discussed with respect to those obtained in a prior study of transient evoked potentials during working memory.
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              Neuroimaging studies of working memory: a meta-analysis.

              We performed meta-analyses on 60 neuroimaging (PET and fMRI) studies of working memory (WM), considering three types of storage material (spatial, verbal, and object), three types of executive function (continuous updating of WM, memory for temporal order, and manipulation of information in WM), and interactions between material and executive function. Analyses of material type showed the expected dorsal-ventral dissociation between spatial and nonspatial storage in the posterior cortex, but not in the frontal cortex. Some support was found for left frontal dominance in verbal WM, but only for tasks with low executive demand. Executive demand increased right lateralization in the frontal cortex for spatial WM. Tasks requiring executive processing generally produce more dorsal frontal activations than do storage-only tasks, but not all executive processes show this pattern. Brodmann's areas (BAs) 6, 8, and 9, in the superior frontal cortex, respond most when WM must be continuously updated and when memory for temporal order must be maintained. Right BAs 10 and 47, in the ventral frontal cortex, respond more frequently with demand for manipulation (including dual-task requirements or mental operations). BA 7, in the posterior parietal cortex, is involved in all types of executive function. Finally, we consider a potential fourth executive function: selective attention to features of a stimulus to be stored in WM, which leads to increased probability of activating the medial prefrontal cortex (BA 32) in storage tasks.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Aging Neurosci
                Front Aging Neurosci
                Front. Aging Neurosci.
                Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1663-4365
                24 April 2015
                2015
                : 7
                Affiliations
                1Faculty of Ceilandia, University of Brasilia Brasilia, Brazil
                2Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London London, UK
                3Laboratory of Neurosciences and Behavior, Department of Physiological Sciences, University of Brasilia Brasilia, Brazil
                4CEUMA University/UniCEUMA São Luís, Brazil
                Author notes

                Edited by: P. Hemachandra Reddy, Texas Tech University, USA

                Reviewed by: Ramesh Kandimalla, Texas Tech University, USA; Hisao Nishijo, University of Toyama, Japan

                *Correspondence: Maria Clotilde H. Tavares, Laboratory of Neurosciences and Behavior, Department of Physiological Sciences, University of Brasilia, Brasilia, 70910-900, Brazil mchtavares@ 123456gmail.com
                Article
                10.3389/fnagi.2015.00053
                4408837
                Copyright © 2015 Satler, Belham, Garcia, Tomaz and Tavares.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution and reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 5, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 52, Pages: 9, Words: 6254
                Categories
                Neuroscience
                Methods

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