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The ability to hold visual information in mind beyond the duration of the initial sensory stimulation critically underpins many higher-level cognitive functions. In particular, visual short-term memory (VSTM) provides the perceptual continuity that is necessary for visual information to guide behavior across short temporal delays. This chapter explores how the mechanisms of attention optimize VSTM. First, it considers how top-down attention biases VSTM encoding to favor information that is most likely to be relevant to behavior. Next, it looks at more recent evidence that top-down attention can also bias representations already stored within VSTM. Flexible allocation of attention within VSTM enables the visual system to prioritize and update stored representations to accommodate changing task demands.

Original publication

DOI

10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195334364.003.0010

Type

Chapter

Book title

The Neuroscience of Attention: Attentional Control and Selection

Publication Date

24/05/2012