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Turning the Mind's Eye Inward: The Interplay between Selective Attention and Working Memory

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Book Series: Frontiers Research Topics ISSN: 16648714 ISBN: 9782889197217 Year: Pages: 170 DOI: 10.3389/978-2-88919-721-7 Language: English
Publisher: Frontiers Media SA
Subject: Neurology --- Science (General)
Added to DOAB on : 2016-04-07 11:22:02

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Historically, cognitive sciences have considered selective attention and working memory as largely separated cognitive functions. That is, selective attention as a concept is typically reserved for the processes that allow for the prioritization of specific sensory input, while working memory entails more central structures for maintaining (and operating on) temporary mental representations. However, over the last decades various observations have been reported that question such sharp distinction. Most importantly, information stored in working memory has been shown to modulate selective attention processing – and vice versa. At the theoretical level, these observations are paralleled by an increasingly dominant focus on working memory as (involving) the attended part of long-term memory, with some positions considering that working memory is equivalent to selective attention turned to long-term memory representations – or internal selective attention. This questions the existence of working memory as a dedicated cognitive function and raises the need for integrative accounts of working memory and attention. The next step will be to explore the precise implications of attentional accounts of WM for the understanding of specific aspects and characteristics of WM, such as serial order processing, its modality-specificity, its capacity limitations, its relation with executive functions, as well as the nature of attentional mechanisms involved. This research topic in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience aims at bringing together the latest insights and findings about the interplay between working memory and selective attention.

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