N-back Working Memory: Normative fMRI Studies With Children
The n‐back task is likely the most popular measure of working memory for functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies. Despite accumulating neuroimaging studies with the n‐back task and children, its neural representation is still unclear. fMRI studies that used the n‐back were compiled, and data from children up to 15 years (n = 260) were analyzed using activation likelihood estimation. Results show concordance in frontoparietal regions recognized for their role in working memory as well as regions not typically highlighted as part of the working memory network, such as the insula. Findings are discussed in terms of developmental methodology and potential contribution to developmental theories of cognition.
Investigations of the neural correlates of face recognition have typically used old/new paradigms where subjects learn to recognize new faces or identify famous faces. Familiar faces, however, include one's own face, partner's and parents' faces. Using event-related fMRI, we examined the neural correlates of these personally familiar faces. Ten participants were presented with photographs of own, partner, parents, famous and unfamiliar faces and responded to a distinct target. Whole brain, two regions of interest (fusiform gyrus and cingulate gyrus), and multiple linear regression analyses were conducted. Compared with baseline, all familiar faces activated the fusiform gyrus; own faces also activated occipital regions and the precuneus; partner faces activated similar areas, but in addition, the parahippocampal gyrus, middle superior temporal gyri and middle frontal gyrus. Compared with unfamiliar faces, only personally familiar faces activated the cingulate gyrus and the extent of activation varied with face category. Partner faces also activated the insula, amygdala and thalamus. Regions of interest analyses and laterality indices showed anatomical distinctions of processing the personally familiar faces within the fusiform and cingulate gyri. Famous faces were right lateralized whereas personally familiar faces, particularly partner and own faces, elicited bilateral activations. Regression analyses show experiential predictors modulated with neural activity related to own and partner faces. Thus, personally familiar faces activated the core visual areas and extended frontal regions, related to semantic and person knowledge and the extent and areas of activation varied with face type.
An increased propensity for risk taking is a hallmark of adolescent behavior with significant health and social consequences. Here, we elucidated cortical and subcortical regions associated with risky and risk-averse decisions and outcome evaluation using the Balloon Analog Risk Task in a large sample of adolescents (n=256, 56% female, age 14 ± 0.6), including the level of risk as a parametric modulator. We also identified sex differences in neural activity. Risky decisions engaged regions that are parts of the salience, dorsal attention, and frontoparietal networks, but only the insula was sensitive to increasing risks in parametric analyses. During risk-averse decisions, the same networks covaried with parametric levels of risk. The dorsal striatum was engaged by both risky and risk-averse decisions, but was not sensitive to escalating risk. Negative-outcome processing showed greater activations than positive-outcome processing. Insula, lateral orbitofrontal cortex, middle, rostral, and superior frontal areas, rostral and caudal anterior cingulate cortex were activated only by negative outcomes, with a subset of regions associated with negative outcomes showing greater activation in females. Taken together, these results suggest that safe decisions are predicted by more accurate neural representation of increasing risk levels, whereas reward-related processes play a relatively minor role.