Research Topic

In Search of the Neural Underpinnings and a Functional Definition of the Elusive "Working Memory"

About this Research Topic

Working Memory (WM) is a widely used term in the field of Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neurology. Since the introduction of the WM model by Baddeley and Hitch in the early 70s, a vast amount of papers focusing on this specific psychological construct has been published. In this context, several neuropsychological tests have been developed in an attempt to quantify WM. There is also a plethora of studies aimed at elucidating the neurological underpinnings of WM, and investigating how it is affected by specific neurological disorders such as neurodegenerative diseases and cerebrovascular accidents. However, the specifics of the true nature of WM, as well as its underlying mechanisms - in terms of both explanatory cognitive models and identification of the neural networks supporting its individual components - remain elusive.

This Research Topic aims to tackle the main problems still unresolved in the existing literature. There is no comprehensive definition of WM, in the sense that the individual components of WM (e.g. manipulation, selective retrieval, monitoring within working memory, etc.) have not yet been completely clarified. There is evidence in favor of the existence of such subcomponents (see for example Champod and Petrides, 2007; 2010), but more studies are needed to elucidate such components, along with their neurological substrate.

There is no general consensus on the psychometric tools used to assess WM. Different studies use different types of testing, possibly taping at different components of WM. Nevertheless, the use of the generic term “working memory” may mislead the reader to think that all these neuropsychological tests show minimal differences and target the same function, despite the fact that inconsistencies have been reported in the relevant literature.

Although there are several studies investigating the relationship between WM and other cognitive functions such as language, especially in clinical populations, the specifics of this association have not been clarified. Finally, the integration of data derived from lesion and fMRI studies remains a work in progress and there is no conclusive evidence about the neural underpinnings of WM from an evolutionary perspective.

For this Research Topic we welcome submissions on the following subjects:

• Differences between various psychometric tools assessing WM;
• Brain regions related to specific WM subcomponents in healthy participants and/or neurological patients;
• Possible relationships between WM and language, as well as other aspects of cognition in clinical populations (e.g. patients with focal lesions, neurodegenerative or psychiatric disorders, children with neurodevelopmental disorders) and healthy participants;
• Neural correlates of WM subcomponents in non-human primates.


Keywords: working memory, short-term memory, executive functions, fMRI, neurological disorders


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Working Memory (WM) is a widely used term in the field of Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neurology. Since the introduction of the WM model by Baddeley and Hitch in the early 70s, a vast amount of papers focusing on this specific psychological construct has been published. In this context, several neuropsychological tests have been developed in an attempt to quantify WM. There is also a plethora of studies aimed at elucidating the neurological underpinnings of WM, and investigating how it is affected by specific neurological disorders such as neurodegenerative diseases and cerebrovascular accidents. However, the specifics of the true nature of WM, as well as its underlying mechanisms - in terms of both explanatory cognitive models and identification of the neural networks supporting its individual components - remain elusive.

This Research Topic aims to tackle the main problems still unresolved in the existing literature. There is no comprehensive definition of WM, in the sense that the individual components of WM (e.g. manipulation, selective retrieval, monitoring within working memory, etc.) have not yet been completely clarified. There is evidence in favor of the existence of such subcomponents (see for example Champod and Petrides, 2007; 2010), but more studies are needed to elucidate such components, along with their neurological substrate.

There is no general consensus on the psychometric tools used to assess WM. Different studies use different types of testing, possibly taping at different components of WM. Nevertheless, the use of the generic term “working memory” may mislead the reader to think that all these neuropsychological tests show minimal differences and target the same function, despite the fact that inconsistencies have been reported in the relevant literature.

Although there are several studies investigating the relationship between WM and other cognitive functions such as language, especially in clinical populations, the specifics of this association have not been clarified. Finally, the integration of data derived from lesion and fMRI studies remains a work in progress and there is no conclusive evidence about the neural underpinnings of WM from an evolutionary perspective.

For this Research Topic we welcome submissions on the following subjects:

• Differences between various psychometric tools assessing WM;
• Brain regions related to specific WM subcomponents in healthy participants and/or neurological patients;
• Possible relationships between WM and language, as well as other aspects of cognition in clinical populations (e.g. patients with focal lesions, neurodegenerative or psychiatric disorders, children with neurodevelopmental disorders) and healthy participants;
• Neural correlates of WM subcomponents in non-human primates.


Keywords: working memory, short-term memory, executive functions, fMRI, neurological disorders


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

18 August 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

18 August 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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