Magnetic stimulation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex dissociates fragile visual short-term memory from visual working memory

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Ilja Sligte
  • Martijn E Wokke
  • Johannes P Tesselaar
  • H Steven Scholte
  • Victor A F Lamme

Colleges, School and Institutes


To guide our behavior in successful ways, we often need to rely on information that is no longer in view, but maintained in visual short-term memory (VSTM). While VSTM is usually broken down into iconic memory (brief and high-capacity store) and visual working memory (sustained, yet limited-capacity store), recent studies have suggested the existence of an additional and intermediate form of VSTM that depends on activity in extrastriate cortex. In previous work, we have shown that this fragile form of VSTM can be dissociated from iconic memory. In the present study, we provide evidence that fragile VSTM is different from visual working memory as magnetic stimulation of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) disrupts visual working memory, while leaving fragile VSTM intact. In addition, we observed that people with high DLPFC activity had superior working memory capacity compared to people with low DLPFC activity, and only people with high DLPFC activity really showed a reduction in working memory capacity in response to magnetic stimulation. Altogether, this study shows that VSTM consists of three stages that have clearly different characteristics and rely on different neural structures. On the methodological side, we show that it is possible to predict individual susceptibility to magnetic stimulation based on functional MRI activity.

Bibliographic note

Crown Copyright © 2010. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1578-88
Number of pages11
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • Adult, Discrimination (Psychology), Female, Functional Laterality, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Memory, Short-Term, Prefrontal Cortex, Reference Values, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, Visual Perception