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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 2015, Article ID 123636, 10 pages
Research Article

The Neural Correlates of Spatial and Object Working Memory in Elderly and Parkinson’s Disease Subjects

1In-Vivo Human Molecular and Structural Neuroimaging Unit, Division of Neuroscienc San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Via Olgettina 58, 20132 Milan, Italy
2Parkinson Institute, Istituti Clinici di Perfezionamento, Via Bignami 1, 20126 Milan, Italy
3IUSS Pavia, Piazza della Vittoria 15, 27100 Pavia, Italy
4Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Unit, I.R.C.C.S Hospital San Camillo, Via Alberoni 70, 30126 Venice, Italy
5Nuclear Medicine Unit, San Raffaele Hospital, Via Olgettina 60, 20132 Milan, Italy
6Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Via Olgettina 58, 20132 Milan, Italy

Received 17 December 2014; Accepted 8 February 2015

Academic Editor: Jan O. Aasly

Copyright © 2015 Silvia P. Caminiti et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This fMRI study deals with the neural correlates of spatial and objects working memory (SWM and OWM) in elderly subjects (ESs) and idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (IPD). Normal aging and IPD can be associated with a WM decline. In IPD population, some studies reported similar SWM and OWM deficits; others reported a greater SWM than OWM impairment. In the present fMRI research, we investigated whether compensated IPD patients and elderly subjects with comparable performance during the execution of SWM and OWM tasks would present differences in WM-related brain activations. We found that the two groups recruited a prevalent left frontoparietal network when performing the SWM task and a bilateral network during OWM task execution. More specifically, the ESs showed bilateral frontal and subcortical activations in SWM, at difference with the IPD patients who showed a strict left lateralized network, consistent with frontostriatal degeneration in IPD. The overall brain activation in the IPD group was more extended as number of voxels with respect to ESs, suggesting underlying compensatory mechanisms. In conclusion, notwithstanding comparable WM performance, the two groups showed consistencies and differences in the WM activated networks. The latter underline the compensatory processes of normal typical and pathological aging.