Differences in prefrontal cortex activity based on difficulty in a working memory task using near-infrared spectroscopy.
The Prefrontal cortex (PFC) has been highly related to executive functions such as working memory (WM). This study assesses the activity of the PFC in performing the Sternberg WM task (ST) with three levels of difficulty (easy, medium and hard) using the near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) technique. Participants were 43 young and healthy right-handed women. Nine WM task blocks were pseudo randomly presented, three for each difficulty task. The results showed that the participant’s performance was better in the easy trials than in the medium and hard trials. Performance in the medium trials was also better than in the hard ones. Bonferroni-corrected paired post-hoc t-tests indicated higher oxygenation in medium and hard tasks than in the easy ones for times between 13 and 42 seconds in the left lateral PFC and in both, medial and lateral, right PFC. Significant differences in Oxygenated hemoglobin (HbO), Total hemoglobin (HbT) and oxygenation (Oxy) changes depending on the Sternberg WM task were found. Unlike previous studies with fNIRS and WM, the current study uses a highly controlled WM task that differentiates between encoding, retention and retrieval phases, comparing different levels of task load.
PMID: 32479853 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]
Behav Brain Res. 2020 May 29;:112722
Authors: Lucas I, Urieta P, Balada F, Blanco E, Aluja A