Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging studies demonstrate that increased task-related neural activity in parietal and frontal cortex during development and training is positively correlated with improved visuospatial working memory (vsWM) performance. Yet, the analysis of the corresponding underlying functional reorganization of the fronto-parietal network has received little attention. Here, we perform an integrative experimental and computational analysis to determine the effective balance between the superior frontal sulcus (SFS) and intraparietal sulcus (IPS) and their putative role(s) in protecting against distracters. To this end, we performed electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings during a vsWM task. We utilized a biophysically based computational cortical network model to analyze the effects of different neural changes in the underlying cortical networks on the directed transfer function (DTF) and spiking activity. Combining a DTF analysis of our EEG data with the DTF analysis of the computational model, a directed strong SFS → IPS network was revealed. Such a configuration offers protection against distracters, whereas the opposite is true for strong IPS → SFS connections. Our results therefore suggest that the previously demonstrated improvement of vsWM performance during development could be due to a shift in the control of the effective balance between the SFS-IPS networks.
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