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Prog Brain Res. 2001;134:471-81.

Object-based attention and object working memory: overlapping processes revealed by selective interference effects in humans.

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Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1109, USA.


Human observers can discriminate two attributes from the same object more efficiently than attributes from two different objects even if the retinal locations of the attributes are the same in the single and dual object cases. The single object advantage challenges the spatial spotlight view of attention and suggests that attentional selection can be object based. We report that the single object advantage is reliably reduced when an object working memory task is performed concurrently, whereas concurrent verbal and spatial working memory tasks have no effect. This selective interference effect provides support for the existence of object-based attentional processes that also contribute to the short-term retention of objects in working memory. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that both attentional and memory subsystems are organized along domain-specific lines, and suggest the importance of attention in rehearsal operations. The contributions of inferior temporal and parietal mechanisms that have been implicated in attending to and remembering objects are considered.

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