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Stephanie McMains, Sabine Kastner; Do spatial attention and long-term memory systems overlap? Dorsal and ventral attention network engagement during memory retrieval processes. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):180. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/11.11.180.
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Much evidence suggests that a set of fronto-parietal areas is involved in directing top-down attention. Recently, evidence has suggested there is also a ventral attention network recruited by the detection of unexpected or unattended behaviorally relevant stimuli. Interestingly, a similar distinction between a dorsal and ventral network has been recently proposed in the episodic memory field, with the dorsal network recruited during goal directed memory retrieval processes, and the ventral network recruited when relevant memories are automatically retrieved and attention must be oriented toward them. While the dorsal and ventral attention and memory networks are thought to recruit similar brain regions, not much is known about how these systems interact. Here, we investigated whether the attention networks were engaged during memory retrieval processes. We used fMRI to localize the attention networks using a traditional Posner cueing paradigm. The dorsal network was defined from activations related to the cue period, while the ventral network was defined from activations related to invalidly versus validly cued targets. In addition, topographic mapping was used to identify areas within posterior parietal and frontal cortex known to be involved in visual-spatial attention. All regions were defined within individual subjects. Most regions activated by the Posner task carried information about memory retrieval success. As predicted, dorsal attention areas were more activated for words that were remembered with low confidence where more memory search was likely required compared to correctly rejected or recollected words. Ventral attention areas either had the greatest activity for recollected words, or showed a general old/new effect. While these results suggest significant overlap between attention and memory systems, there was also a region within the inferior parietal lobe that was uniquely activated by the memory task.
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