Attentional modulation of object representations in working memory

Cereb Cortex. 2007 Sep;17(9):2072-83. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhl116. Epub 2006 Nov 10.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Cues
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / cytology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Parahippocampal Gyrus / physiology
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Visual Perception / physiology*