Attention on our mind: the role of spatial attention in visual working memory

Acta Psychol (Amst). 2011 Jun;137(2):248-51. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2010.06.011. Epub 2010 Jul 15.


The current study shows that spatial visual attention is used to retrieve information from visual working memory. Participants had to keep four colored circles in visual working memory. While keeping this information in memory we asked whether one of the colors was present in the array. While retrieving this information, on some trials a probe dot was presented. When this probe dot was presented at the location of the color that had to be retrieved, participants responded faster than when it was presented at another location. Our findings further elaborate the role of visual attention in working memory: not only is attention the mechanism by which information is stored into working memory, it is also the mechanism by which information is retrieved from visual working memory.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Space Perception / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*