A systematic review and meta-analysis of memory-guided attention: Frontal and parietal activation suggests involvement of fronto-parietal networks

Wiley Interdiscip Rev Cogn Sci. 2021 Jan;12(1):e1546. doi: 10.1002/wcs.1546. Epub 2020 Oct 25.


Prior knowledge and long-term memory can guide our attention to facilitate search for and detection of subtle targets embedded in a complex scene. A number of neuropsychological and experimental studies have investigated this effect, yet results in the field remain mixed, as there is a lack of consensus regarding the neural correlates thought to support memory-guided attention. The purpose of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to identify a common set of brain structures involved in memory-guided attention. Statistical analyses were computed on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies that presented participants with a task that required them to detect a target or a change embedded in repeated and novel complex visual displays. After a systematic search, 10 fMRI studies met the selection criteria and were included in the analysis. The results yielded four significant clusters. Activity in right inferior parietal (Brodmann area [BA] 9) and right superior parietal (BA 7) lobes suggests involvement of a fronto-parietal attention network, while activity in left mid-cingulate cortex (BA 23) and right middle frontal gyrus (BA 10) suggests involvement of a fronto-parietal control network. These findings are consistent with the notion that fronto-parietal circuits are important for interfacing retrieved memories with attentional systems to guide search. This article is categorized under: Psychology > Memory Psychology > Learning Psychology > Attention.

Keywords: fronto-parietal network; long-term memory; medial temporal lobe; memory-guided attention.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Nerve Net*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*