Transmodal comparison of auditory, motor, and visual post-processing with and without intentional short-term memory maintenance

Stephan Bender, Stephanie Behringer, Christine M. Freitag, Franz Resch, Matthias Weisbrod

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: To elucidate the contributions of modality-dependent post-processing in auditory, motor and visual cortical areas to short-term memory. Methods: We compared late negative waves (N700) during the post-processing of single lateralized stimuli which were separated by long intertrial intervals across the auditory, motor and visual modalities. Tasks either required or competed with attention to post-processing of preceding events, i.e. active short-term memory maintenance. Results: N700 indicated that cortical post-processing exceeded short movements as well as short auditory or visual stimuli for over half a second without intentional short-term memory maintenance. Modality-specific topographies pointed towards sensory (respectively motor) generators with comparable time-courses across the different modalities. Lateralization and amplitude of auditory/motor/visual N700 were enhanced by active short-term memory maintenance compared to attention to current perceptions or passive stimulation. The memory-related N700 increase followed the characteristic time-course and modality-specific topography of the N700 without intentional memory-maintenance. Conclusions: Memory-maintenance-related lateralized negative potentials may be related to a less lateralised modality-dependent post-processing N700 component which occurs also without intentional memory maintenance (automatic memory trace or effortless attraction of attention). Encoding to short-term memory may involve controlled attention to modality-dependent post-processing. Significance: Similar short-term memory processes may exist in the auditory, motor and visual systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2044-2064
Number of pages21
JournalClinical Neurophysiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditory event-related potential
  • Current source density
  • Lateralization
  • Movement-related potential
  • Visual event-related potential


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