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Title: Shifting attention within memory representations involves early visual areas.
Authors: Munneke, J
Belopolsky, AV
Theeuwes, J
Keywords: working memory;vision;memory;sensory cues;attention;visual cortex;visual system;sensory perception
Issue Date: 25-Apr-2012
Publisher: PLoS
Citation: PloS ONE, 2012, 7 (4): e35528 (9)
Abstract: © 2012 Munneke et al. Prior studies have shown that spatial attention modulates early visual cortex retinotopically, resulting in enhanced processing of external perceptual representations. However, it is not clear whether the same visual areas are modulated when attention is focused on, and shifted within a working memory representation. In the current fMRI study participants were asked to memorize an array containing four stimuli. After a delay, participants were presented with a verbal cue instructing them to actively maintain the location of one of the stimuli in working memory. Additionally, on a number of trials a second verbal cue instructed participants to switch attention to the location of another stimulus within the memorized representation. Results of the study showed that changes in the BOLD pattern closely followed the locus of attention within the working memory representation. A decrease in BOLD-activity (V1-V3) was observed at ROIs coding a memory location when participants switched away from this location, whereas an increase was observed when participants switched towards this location. Continuous increased activity was obtained at the memorized location when participants did not switch. This study shows that shifting attention within memory representations activates the earliest parts of visual cortex (including V1) in a retinotopic fashion. We conclude that even in the absence of visual stimulation, early visual areas support shifting of attention within memorized representations, similar to when attention is shifted in the outside world. The relationship between visual working memory and visual mental imagery is discussed in light of the current findings.
ISSN: 1932-6203
Appears in Collections:Dept of Life Sciences Research Papers

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