Mapping working memory-specific dysfunction using a transdiagnostic approach

Zachary Adam Yaple, Serenella Tolomeo, Rongjun Yu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Working memory (WM) is an executive ability that allows one to hold and manipulate information for a short period of time. Schizophrenia and mood disorders are severe psychiatric conditions with overlapping genetic and clinical symptoms. Whilst WM has been suggested as meeting the criteria for being an endophenotype for schizophrenia and mood disorders, it still unclear whether they share overlapping neural circuitry.

Objective: The n-back task has been widely used to measure WM capacity, such as maintenance, flexible updating, and interference control. Here we compiled studies that included psychiatric populations, i.e., schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder.

Methods: We performed a coordinate-based meta-analysis that combined 34 BOLD-fMRI studies comparing activity associated with n-back working memory between psychiatric patients and healthy controls. We specifically focused our search using the n-back task to diminish study heterogeneity.

Results: All patient groups showed blunted activity in the striatum, anterior insula and frontal lobe. The same brain networks related to WM were compromised in schizophrenia, major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.

Conclusion: Our findings support the suggestion of commonal functional abnormalities across schizophrenia and mood disorders related to WM.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102747
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

User-Defined Keywords

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Working memory


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