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Spatial orienting of attention from long-term memory experience: Brain areas and their interactions


Lepsien,  Jöran
Department Cognitive Neurology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Summerfield, J. J., Lepsien, J., Gitelman, D. R., Mesulam, M. M., & Nobre, A. C. (2005). Spatial orienting of attention from long-term memory experience: Brain areas and their interactions. Poster presented at 12th annual Meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, New York, USA.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0010-DAAD-D
Attentional orienting studies conventionally use perceptual symbolic cues to guide attention. These experiments represent a rather artificial world, as we know that in normal life it is typically information gained by our previous experience and subsequently stored in memory that guides our attention. Therefore we designed an experiment to investigate the ability to orient attention to spatial locations based on long-term memory experience and to reveal brain areas supporting this mechanism. We designed a parallel experiment using perceptual cues to compare the behavioural consequences and brain areas involved in orienting attention from memory and from perceptual cues. In validly cued trials, participants built expectancies about the location of a small target key located within complex scenes according to the previously learned location of the target or a peripheral stimulus. The results showed reliable behavioural benefits to orienting attention based on long-term memory experience. Event-related fMRI results revealed that the brain areas participating in memory-guided spatial orienting included those involved in perceptually-guided orienting. In addition, memory-guided orienting of attention activated brain areas involved in retrieval of spatial long-term memory (e.g. hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus, lateral prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate/parietal-occipital junction). Analysis of the effective connectivity between brain areas in memory-guided and perceptually-guided orienting conditions showed significant differences in the interactions among participating brain areas. Overall, the experiment charts the interplay between the domains of long-term memory and attentional orienting, showing how we can optimise behaviour based on prior experience and providing insights into how the brain areas interact to enable this process.