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Christian Olivers; What drives memory-driven attentional capture?. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):1116. doi: 10.1167/8.6.1116.
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Following the biased competition model [Desimone, R. & Duncan, J. (1995), Neural mechanisms of selective visual attention, Annual Review of Neuroscience, 18, 193–222], an important question is whether visual attention (the ability to select relevant visual information) and visual working memory (the ability to retain relevant visual information) share the same content representations. Is visual attention biased by what we hold in memory? We have recently found that it is: Singleton distractors interfered more strongly with a visual search task when they were identical or related to the object held in memory. The current work investigated which factors are, and which factors are not important in generating memory-driven attention. Memory-driven attentional capture does not depend on whether articulatory suppression or other methods are used to induce the use of visual (rather than verbal) memory, nor on whether search is serial or parallel, or whether displays are homogeneous or heterogeneous. What is important is that the search task remains the same from trial to trial (consistent vs. varied mapping), and that the visual search items possess sufficient surface energy. The conclusion is that memory drives attention only when memory resources can be fully dedicated to the to-be-memorized representation, and there is sufficient stimulus-based activity for this memory representation to resonate with.
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