Document Type


Publication Date

September 2005

Journal or Book Title

Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience






Using fMRI, we investigated the functional organization of prefrontal cortex (PFC) as participants briefly thought of a single just-experienced item (i.e., refreshed an active representation). The results of six studies, and a meta-analysis including previous studies, identified regions in left dorsolateral, anterior, and ventrolateral PFC associated in varying degrees with refreshing different types of information (visual and auditory words, drawings, patterns, people, places, or locations). In addition, activity increased in anterior cingulate with selection demands and in orbitofrontal cortex when a nonselected item was emotionally salient, consistent with a role for these areas in cognitive control (e.g., overcoming "mental rubbernecking"). We also found evidence that presenting emotional information disrupted an anterior component of the refresh circuit. We suggest that refreshing accounts for some neural activity observed in more complex tasks, such as working memory, long-term memory, and problem solving, and that its disruption (e.g., from aging or emotion) could have a broad impact.