Background: The neural substrates of olfactory working memory are unknown. We addressed the questions of whether olfactory working memory involves a verbal representation of the odor, or a sensory image of the odor, or both, and the location of the neural substrates of these processes. Methodology/Principal Findings: We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure activity in the brains of subjects who were remembering either nameable or unnameable odorants. We found a double dissociation whereby remembering nameable odorants was reflected in sustained activity in prefrontal language areas, and remembering unnameable odorants was reflected in sustained activity in primary olfactory cortex. Conclusions/Significance: These findings suggest a novel dedicated mechanism in primary olfactory cortex, where odor information is maintained in temporary storage to subserve ongoing tasks.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)