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Abstract Memory is a complex cognitive process composed of several subsystems, namely short- and long-term memory and working memory (WM). Previous research has shown that adequate interaction between subsystems is crucial for successful memory processes such as encoding, storage, and manipulation of information. However, few studies have investigated the relationship between different subsystems at the behavioral and neural levels. Thus, here we assessed the relationship between individual WM abilities and brain activity underlying the recognition of previously memorized auditory sequences. First, recognition of previously memorized versus novel auditory sequences was associated with a widespread network of brain areas comprising the cingulate gyrus, hippocampus, insula, inferior temporal cortex, frontal operculum, and orbitofrontal cortex. Second, we observed positive correlations between brain activity underlying auditory sequence recognition and WM. We showed a sustained positive correlation in the medial cingulate gyrus, a brain area that was widely involved in the auditory sequence recognition. Remarkably, we also observed positive correlations in the inferior temporal, temporal-fusiform, and postcentral gyri, brain areas that were not strongly associated with auditory sequence recognition. In conclusion, we discovered positive correlations between WM abilities and brain activity underlying long-term recognition of auditory sequences, providing new evidence on the relationship between memory subsystems. Furthermore, we showed that high WM performers recruited a larger brain network including areas associated with visual processing (i.e., inferior temporal, temporal-fusiform, and postcentral gyri) for successful auditory memory recognition.

Original publication




Journal article


PNAS Nexus


Oxford University Press (OUP)

Publication Date