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Neural mechanisms underlying visual short-term memory gain for temporally distinct objects.

Ihssen, N. and Linden, D.E.J. and Miller, C.E. and Shapiro, K.L. (2015) 'Neural mechanisms underlying visual short-term memory gain for temporally distinct objects.', Cerebral cortex., 25 (8). pp. 2149-2159.

Abstract

Recent research has shown that visual short-term memory (VSTM) can substantially be improved when the to-be-remembered objects are split in 2 half-arrays (i.e., sequenced) or the entire array is shown twice (i.e., repeated), rather than presented simultaneously. Here we investigate the hypothesis that sequencing and repeating displays overcomes attentional “bottlenecks” during simultaneous encoding. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we show that sequencing and repeating displays increased brain activation in extrastriate and primary visual areas, relative to simultaneous displays (Study 1). Passively viewing identical stimuli did not increase visual activation (Study 2), ruling out a physical confound. Importantly, areas of the frontoparietal attention network showed increased activation in repetition but not in sequential trials. This dissociation suggests that repeating a display increases attentional control by allowing attention to be reallocated in a second encoding episode. In contrast, sequencing the array poses fewer demands on control, with competition from nonattended objects being reduced by the half-arrays. This idea was corroborated by a third study in which we found optimal VSTM for sequential displays minimizing attentional demands. Importantly these results provide support within the same experimental paradigm for the role of stimulus-driven and top-down attentional control aspects of biased competition theory in setting constraints on VSTM.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Attention, Biased competition, fMRI, Visual short-term memory, Working memory.
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhu021
Publisher statement:This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Cerebral Cortex following peer review. The version of record Ihssen, N., Linden, D.E.J., Miller, C.E. and Shapiro, K.L. (2015) 'Neural mechanisms underlying visual short-term memory gain for temporally distinct objects.', Cerebral cortex., 25 (8): 2149-2159 is available online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhu021.
Record Created:12 Feb 2016 09:35
Last Modified:12 Feb 2016 10:06

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