Working memory encoding delays top-down attention to visual cortex

Scalf, Paige E., Dux, Paul E. and Marois, Rene (2011) Working memory encoding delays top-down attention to visual cortex. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23 9: 2593-2604. doi:10.1162/jocn.2011.21621

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Author Scalf, Paige E.
Dux, Paul E.
Marois, Rene
Title Working memory encoding delays top-down attention to visual cortex
Journal name Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0898-929X
Publication date 2011-09
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1162/jocn.2011.21621
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Volume 23
Issue 9
Start page 2593
End page 2604
Total pages 12
Place of publication Cambridge, MA, United States
Publisher M I T Press
Collection year 2012
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The encoding of information from one event into working memory can delay high-level, central decision-making processes for subsequent events [e.g., Jolicoeur, P., & Dell'Acqua, R. The demonstration of short-term consolidation. Cognitive Psychology, 36, 138–202, 1998, doi:10.1006/cogp.1998.0684]. Working memory, however, is also believed to interfere with the deployment of top–down attention [de Fockert, J. W., Rees, G., Frith, C. D., & Lavie, N. The role of working memory in visual selective attention. Science, 291, 1803–1806, 2001, doi:10.1126/science.1056496]. It is, therefore, possible that, in addition to delaying central processes, the engagement of working memory encoding (WME) also postpones perceptual processing as well. Here, we tested this hypothesis with time-resolved fMRI by assessing whether WME serially postpones the action of top–down attention on low-level sensory signals. In three experiments, participants viewed a skeletal rapid serial visual presentation sequence that contained two target items (T1 and T2) separated by either a short (550 msec) or long (1450 msec) SOA. During single-target runs, participants attended and responded only to T1, whereas in dual-target runs, participants attended and responded to both targets. To determine whether T1 processing delayed top–down attentional enhancement of T2, we examined T2 BOLD response in visual cortex by subtracting the single-task waveforms from the dual-task waveforms for each SOA. When the WME demands of T1 were high (Experiments 1 and 3), T2 BOLD response was delayed at the short SOA relative to the long SOA. This was not the case when T1 encoding demands were low (Experiment 2). We conclude that encoding of a stimulus into working memory delays the deployment of attention to subsequent target representations in visual cortex.
Keyword Time-resolved Fmri
Psychological refractory period
Event-related potentials
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2012 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 12 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 11 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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