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Cereb Cortex. 2007 Sep;17(9):2072-83. Epub 2006 Nov 10.

Attentional modulation of object representations in working memory.

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Brain & Cognition Laboratory, Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3UD, UK.


We investigated the role of object-based attention in modulating the maintenance of faces and scenes held online in working memory (WM). Participants had to remember a face and a scene, while cues presented during the delay instructed them to orient their attention to one or the other item. Event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging revealed that orienting attention in WM modulated the activity in fusiform and parahippocampal gyri, involved in maintaining representations of faces and scenes respectively. Measures from complementary behavioral studies indicated that this increase in activity corresponded to improved WM performance. The results show that directed attention can modulate maintenance of specific representations in WM, and help define the interplay between the domains of attention and WM.

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