I recently watched this talk (below) by Joaquin Fuster. His theories provide a good integration of cortical functions and distributed processing in working and long-term memory. He also has some cool videos of likely network interactions across cortex (in real time) in his talk.
Joaquin Fuster’s talk:
Link to Joaquin Fuster’s talk [Google Video]
Here is an excerpt from Dr. Fuster’s amazing biography:
In 1958 Fuster provided the first evidence that the reticular activating system of the brain stem, a neural substrate for arousal from sleep, modulates selective visual attention (Science 1958). In 1960 he developed one of the first microelectrode methods for single-unit recording. He demonstrated the reticular facilitation of the excitatory as well as inhibitory reactions of neurons in the visual cortex to visual stimuli (Science 1961), an indication of reticular enhancement of visual contrast in the cortex as a result of attention.
In 1971 he described the first “memory cells” ever found in the primate brain (Science 1971, J. Neurophysiol., 1973). These are cortical cells that show sustained and elevated discharge during the short-term memorization of an item of information (working memory).
In recent years, Fuster and colleagues have been studying the physiological dynamics of working memory in the cerebral cortex. The purpose is to clarify the mechanisms by which the cortex stores and retains information in working memory, a cognitive function of prime importance in the coordination of behavior, speech, and reasoning. For that purpose they have been utilizing the latest and most advanced methods of neuroimaging (NeuroImage, 2005) and neurocomputation (Eur.J.Neurosci, 2005).