Neurocognitive Operations Underlying Working Memory Abilities: An Analysis of Latency and Time-Based Parameters

Sheina Emrani, Melissa Lamar, Catherine C. Price, Rod Swenson, David J. Libon, Ganesh Baliga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The theory of executive attention (Fuster, 2015) suggests considerable plasticity regarding when specific neurocognitive operations are recruited to bring executive tasks to fruition. Objective: We tested the hypothesis that differing neurocognitive operations are recruited upon the initiation of a response, but that other distinct neurocognitive operations are recruited towards the middle or end of a response. Methods: The Backward Digit Span Test (BDST) was administered to 58 memory clinic patients (MCI, n = 22; no-MCI, n = 36). Latency to generate all correct 5-span responses was obtained. Statistical analyses found that optimal group classification was achieved using the first and third digit backward. First and third response latencies were analyzed in relation to verbal working memory (WM), visual WM, processing speed, visuospatial operations, naming/lexical access, and verbal episodic memory tests. Results: For the first response, slower latencies were associated with better performance in relation to verbal WM and visuospatial test performance. For the third response, faster latencies were associated with better processing speed and visuospatial test performance. Conclusion: Consistent with the theory of executive attention, these data show that the neurocognitive operations underlying successful executive test performance are not monolithic but can be quite nuanced with differing neurocognitive operations associated with specific time epochs. Results support the efficacy of obtaining time-based latency parameters to help disambiguate successful executive neurocognitive operations in memory clinic patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1535-1547
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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