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Neuron. 2011 Nov 17;72(4):520-35. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2011.10.026.

Memory: enduring traces of perceptual and reflective attention.

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Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Attention and memory are typically studied as separate topics, but they are highly intertwined. Here we discuss the relation between memory and two fundamental types of attention: perceptual and reflective. Memory is the persisting consequence of cognitive activities initiated by and/or focused on external information from the environment (perceptual attention) and initiated by and/or focused on internal mental representations (reflective attention). We consider three key questions for advancing a cognitive neuroscience of attention and memory: to what extent do perception and reflection share representational areas? To what extent are the control processes that select, maintain, and manipulate perceptual and reflective information subserved by common areas and networks? During perception and reflection, to what extent are common areas responsible for binding features together to create complex, episodic memories and for reviving them later? Considering similarities and differences in perceptual and reflective attention helps integrate a broad range of findings and raises important unresolved issues.

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