The digit span task measures the maintenance of information in short-term memory, and is one of the most widely used tests in clinical and experimental neuropsychology. Functional imaging studies have suggested a role of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) in digit span performance. It remains unclear however, whether activation of this area is critical for task performance. Using repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the right DLPFC in a sham-controlled design, we tested the hypothesis of the involvement of the right DLPFC in digit span task performance. We observed a significant disruption of digit span performance in healthy subjects in the real rTMS condition as compared to the sham condition. This effect of rTMS did not differ between digits forward and digits backward. Our results suggest that the right DLPFC is critical for central executive processes utilized by the digits forward and backward tasks.

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