Dissociating the neural mechanisms of memory-based guidance of visual selection

David Soto Blanco, Glyn Humphreys, Pia Rotshtein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

115 Citations (Scopus)


Visual selection is influenced by items in working memory (WM) and priming from implicit memory when a stimulus is repeated across time. WM effects are typically held to be top-down in nature [Soto D, Heinke D, Humphreys GW, Blanco MJ (2005) J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 31:248-261], whereas implicit priming may operate in a bottom-up manner [Theeuwes J, Reimann B, Mortier K (2006) Vis Cogn 14: 466-489]. How WM and implicit priming affects influence visual selection remains poorly understood, however. Here, we report functional MRI evidence that dissociates the neural mechanisms involved in these memory-based effects on selection. The reappearance of a stimulus held in WM enhanced activity in superior frontal gyrus, midtemporal, and occipital areas that are known to encode the prior occurrence of stimuli. in contrast, mere stimulus repetition elicited a suppressive response in the same regions. An additional finding was that a frontothalamic network was sensitive to the behavioral relevance of a match between the contents of WM and the visual search array, enhancing activity when the contents of WM matched the critical target of selection. Items held in WM influence selection by using neural coding distinct to effects of mere repetition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17186-17192
Number of pages7
JournalNational Academy of Sciences. Proceedings
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2007


  • thalamus
  • working memory
  • repetition priming
  • anterior prefrontal cortex : BA10
  • fMRI


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