Early top-down control of visual processing predicts working memory performance

J Cogn Neurosci. 2010 Jun;22(6):1224-34. doi: 10.1162/jocn.2009.21257.


Selective attention confers a behavioral benefit on both perceptual and working memory (WM) performance, often attributed to top-down modulation of sensory neural processing. However, the direct relationship between early activity modulation in sensory cortices during selective encoding and subsequent WM performance has not been established. To explore the influence of selective attention on WM recognition, we used electroencephalography to study the temporal dynamics of top-down modulation in a selective, delayed-recognition paradigm. Participants were presented with overlapped, "double-exposed" images of faces and natural scenes, and were instructed to either remember the face or the scene while simultaneously ignoring the other stimulus. Here, we present evidence that the degree to which participants modulate the early P100 (97-129 msec) event-related potential during selective stimulus encoding significantly correlates with their subsequent WM recognition. These results contribute to our evolving understanding of the mechanistic overlap between attention and memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Evoked Potentials, Visual / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Psychomotor Performance / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Visual Pathways / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*