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Attentional orienting to mnemonic representations: Reduction of load-sensitive maintenance-related activity in the intraparietal sulcus

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Trapp,  Sabrina
Department Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Lepsien,  Joeran
Methods and Development Unit Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Trapp, S., & Lepsien, J. (2012). Attentional orienting to mnemonic representations: Reduction of load-sensitive maintenance-related activity in the intraparietal sulcus. Neuropsychologia, 50(12), 2805-2811. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.08.003.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-15B8-2
Abstract
The orienting of attention to internal or mnemonic representations held in visual working memory (VWM) has recently become a field of increasing interest. While a number of studies support the hypothesis that attention to selected representations in VWM reduces memory load, conclusive findings are still missing. In this event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, we directly investigated whether attentional orienting to mnemonic representations reduces activity in VWM storage-related areas of the brain. VWM load was manipulated by asking subjects to memorize two, four or six items. A retro-cue during the subsequent delay period asked subjects to attend to just one of these items for a subsequent test. This was compared to trials where subjects were required to continue attending to all items for the subsequent test. Data show reduction of load-sensitive maintenance-related activity along the right intraparietal sulcus (IPS), directly linked to attentional orienting. While activity in the anterior IPS reflected the number of representations in the focus of attention, the activation pattern in the posterior IPS suggested residual activation related to unattended items. This dissociation is in line with a functional subdivision of the right IPS according to attentional and mnemonic properties.