Working memory, the ability to maintain and manipulate information over seconds, is central to cognition and it is impaired in many clinical populations. However, our knowledge of the structural properties associated with individual variation in visuospatial working memory capacity is currently poor. Across two locations (Stockholm and Oxford), we examined how regional surface area and cortical thickness in frontal and parietal regions were related to visuospatial working memory capacity. We found a negative association between visuospatial working memory capacity and the surface area of the left frontal pole across both locations, and this finding was consistently present in each of the two locations separately. Importantly, this association was specific to (i) the surface area (not cortical thickness), (ii) the left side of the brain, (iii) and the visuospatial rather than the verbal modality. This result reveals a novel and highly specific neurobiological association with visuospatial working memory which could be further explored in studies with a wider range of psychological tests and in clinical populations.
Frontal pole, Surface area, Visuospatial working-memory capacity