Short-term maintenance of verbal information is a core factor of language repetition, especially when reproducing multiple or unfamiliar stimuli. Many models of language processing locate the verbal short-term maintenance function in the left posterior superior temporo-parietal area and its connections with the inferior frontal gyrus. However, research in the field of short-term memory has implicated bilateral fronto-parietal networks, involved in attention and serial order processing, as being critical for the maintenance and reproduction of verbal sequences. We present here an integrative framework aimed at bridging research in the language processing and short-term memory fields. This framework considers verbal short-term maintenance as an emergent function resulting from synchronized and integrated activation in dorsal and ventral language processing networks as well as fronto-parietal attention and serial order processing networks. To-be-maintained item representations are temporarily activated in the dorsal and ventral language processing networks, novel phoneme and word serial order information is proposed to be maintained via a right fronto-parietal serial order processing network, and activation in these different networks is proposed to be coordinated and maintained via a left fronto-parietal attention processing network. This framework provides new perspectives for our understanding of information maintenance at the non-word-, word- and sentence-level as well as of verbal maintenance deficits in case of brain injury.
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