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Trends Cogn Sci. 2005 Jun;9(6):296-305.

Capacity limits of information processing in the brain.

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Department of Psychology, Center for Integrative and Cognitive Neurosciences, Vanderbilt Vision Research Center, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA.

Erratum in

  • Trends Cogn Sci. 2005 Sep;9(9):415.


Despite the impressive complexity and processing power of the human brain, it is severely capacity limited. Behavioral research has highlighted three major bottlenecks of information processing that can cripple our ability to consciously perceive, hold in mind, and act upon the visual world, illustrated by the attentional blink (AB), visual short-term memory (VSTM), and psychological refractory period (PRP) phenomena, respectively. A review of the neurobiological literature suggests that the capacity limit of VSTM storage is primarily localized to the posterior parietal and occipital cortex, whereas the AB and PRP are associated with partly overlapping fronto-parietal networks. The convergence of these two networks in the lateral frontal cortex points to this brain region as a putative neural locus of a common processing bottleneck for perception and action.

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