A working memory buffer in parahippocampal regions: Evidence from a Load Effect during the Delay Period


Computational models have proposed that the entorhinal cortex (EC) is well suited for maintaining multiple items in working memory (WM). Evidence from animal recording and human neuroimaging studies show that medial temporal lobe areas including the perirhinal (PrC), EC, and CA1 hippocampal subfield may contribute to active maintenance during WM. Previous neuroimaging work also suggests CA1 may be recruited transiently when encoding novel information, and EC and CA1 may beinvolved in maintaining multiple items in WM. In this study, we tested the prediction that a putative WM buffer would demonstrate a load-dependent effect during a WM delay. Using high-resolution fMRI, we examined whether activity within the hippocampus (CA3/DG, CA1, and subiculum) and surrounding medial temporal cortices (PrC, EC, andparahippocampal cortex—PHC) is modulated in a load-dependent manner. We employed a delayed matching-to-sample task with novel scenes at 2 different WM loads. A contrast between high- and low-WM load showed greater activity within CA1 and subiculum during the encoding phase, and greater EC, PrC, and PHC activity during WM maintenance. These results are consistent with computational models and suggest that EC/PrC and PHC act as a WM buffer by actively maintaining novel information in a capacity-dependent manner.



Publication Date


Journal Title

Cerebral Cortex


Oxford Journals

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Document Type



© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.