Cortical specialization for attended versus unattended working memory

Nat Neurosci. 2018 Apr;21(4):494-496. doi: 10.1038/s41593-018-0094-4. Epub 2018 Mar 5.


Items held in working memory can be either attended or not, depending on their current behavioral relevance. It has been suggested that unattended contents might be solely retained in an activity-silent form. Instead, we demonstrate here that encoding unattended contents involves a division of labor. While visual cortex only maintains attended items, intraparietal areas and the frontal eye fields represent both attended and unattended items.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / diagnostic imaging
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Discrimination, Psychological
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Visual Perception / physiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Oxygen