fMRI reveals alteration of spatial working memory networks across adolescence

Alecia D. Schweinsburg, Bonnie J. Nagel, Susan F. Tapert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Recent studies have described neuromaturation and cognitive development across the lifespan, yet few neuroimaging studies have investigated task-related alterations in brain activity during adolescence. We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine brain response to a spatial working memory (SWM) task in 49 typically developing adolescents (25 females and 24 males; ages 12-17). No gender or age differences were found for task performance during SWM. However, age was positively associated with SWM brain response in left prefrontal and bilateral inferior posterior parietal regions. Age was negatively associated with SWM activation in bilateral superior parietal cortex. Gender was significantly associated with SWM response; females demonstrated diminished anterior cingulate activation and males demonstrated greater response in frontopolar cortex than females. Our findings indicate that the frontal and parietal neural networks involved in spatial working memory change over the adolescent age range and are further influenced by gender. These changes may represent evolving mnemonic strategies subserved by ongoing adolescent brain development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-644
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescent
  • Cognition
  • Development
  • Functional MRI
  • Gender
  • Neuropsychology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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