Overlapping mechanisms of attention and spatial working memory

Trends Cogn Sci. 2001 Mar 1;5(3):119-126. doi: 10.1016/s1364-6613(00)01593-x.


Spatial selective attention and spatial working memory have largely been studied in isolation. Studies of spatial attention have provided clear evidence that observers can bias visual processing towards specific locations, enabling faster and better processing of information at those locations than at unattended locations. We present evidence supporting the view that this process of visual selection is a key component of rehearsal in spatial working memory. Thus, although working memory has sometimes been depicted as a storage system that emerges 'downstream' of early sensory processing, current evidence suggests that spatial rehearsal recruits top-down processes that modulate the earliest stages of visual analysis.