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Dissociation Of working memory from decision making within the human prefrontal cortex

, : Dissociation Of working memory from decision making within the human prefrontal cortex. Journal of Neuroscience 18(1): 428-437

We tested the hypothesis that cognitive functions related to working memory (assessed with delay tasks) are distinct from those related to decision making (assessed with a gambling task), and that working memory and decision making depend in part on separate anatomical substrates. Normal controls (n = 21), subjects with lesions in the ventromedial (VM) (n = 9) or dorsolateral/high mesial (DL/M) prefrontal cortices (n = 10), performed on (1) modified delay tasks that assess working memory and (2) a gambling task designed to measure decision making. VM subjects with more anterior lesions (n = 4) performed defectively on the gambling but not the delay task. VM subjects with more posterior lesions (n = 5) were impaired on both tasks. Right DL/M subjects were impaired on the delay task but not the gambling task. Left DL/M subjects were not impaired on either task. The findings reveal a cognitive and anatomic double dissociation between deficits in decision making (anterior VM) and working memory (right DL/M). This presents the first direct evidence of such effects in humans using the lesion method and underscores the special importance of the VM prefrontal region in decision making, independent of a direct role in working memory.


PMID: 9412519

DOI: 10.1016/S0003-4975(97)01149-1

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