Abstract The distribution of brain activation during working memory processing of emotional vocal expressions was studied using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in eight female subjects performing n-back tasks with three load levels (0-back, 1-back, and 2-back tasks). The stimuli in the n-back tasks were the Finnish female name [Saara] uttered in an astonished, angry, frightened, commanding, and scornful mode, and the subjects were instructed to memorize the emotional connotation of the stimuli. Subregions in the prefrontal, parietal, and visual association areas were load-dependently activated during the performance of the n-back tasks. The most consistently activated areas in the prefrontal region were detected in the inferior frontal gyrus corresponding to Brodmann's areas (BAs) 44 and 45 and in the middle and superior frontal gyri (BAs 6/8). Activation was also found in the inferior parietal lobe and intraparietal sulcus (BAs 40/7) and visual association areas including the lingual and fusiform gyri. The results suggest that a distributed neuronal network in occipital, parietal, and frontal areas is involved in working memory processing of emotional content of aurally presented information.