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Trends Cogn Sci. 2011 Jul;15(7):327-34. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2011.05.004. Epub 2011 Jun 12.

Different states in visual working memory: when it guides attention and when it does not.

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  • 1Department of Cognitive Psychology, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Recent studies have revealed a strong relationship between visual working memory and selective attention, such that attention is biased by what is currently on our mind. However, other data show that not all memorized items influence the deployment of attention, thus calling for a distinction within working memory: whereas active memory items function as an attentional template and directly affect perception, other, accessory items do not. We review recent evidence that items compete for the status of 'attentional template' that contains only one object at a time. Neurophysiological results provide insight into these different memory states by revealing a more intricate organization of working memory than was previously thought.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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