A verbal reasoning problem at the intersection of verbal working memory, problem-solving, and language comprehension was examined using event-related fMRI to distinguish differences in the differential timing of the response of the various cortical regions that compose the working memory network. Problems were developed such that the process demand as well as the timing of the manipulation of the contents of working memory (i.e., a demanding computation) was varied. Activation was observed in several regions including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the inferior frontal gyrus, and the parietal lobe. Examination of the MR amplitude response revealed that the regions do not all activate simultaneously; instead, their activation time courses reveal differential responses that correspond to their theoretical processing role in the problem-solving task. The coordination of cortical area responses reveals how the various cortical regions synchronize and collaborate in order to accomplish a given cognitive function.
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