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Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2004 Dec;4(4):501-16.

Attention and cognitive control as emergent properties of information representation in working memory.

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Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.


A hallmark of primate, and particularly human, behavior is cognitive control, the ability to integrate information from a multitude of sources and use that information to flexibly guide behavior in order to achieve an infinite number of goals. The neural mechanisms of cognitive control have yet to be fully elucidated, although the prefrontal cortex is known to play a critical role. Here, I review evidence suggesting that a unifying principle regarding the role of various portions of the prefrontal cortex in a wide range of cognitive tasks is the active maintenance in working memory of different types of currently relevant information-from specific stimulus features, to instructional cues, to motivational goals and contexts. I argue that the key to demonstrating the existence of this domain-dependent organization lies in a better understanding of the nature of the representation of this information and the ways in which this information itself controls cognition and behavior.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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