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date: 19 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The current conceptualization of working memory highlights its pivotal role in the cognitive control of goal-directed behaviour, for example, by keeping task-priorities and relevant information ‘online’. Evidence has accumulated, however, that working memory contents can automatically misdirect attention and observers can only exert little intentional control to overcome irrelevant contents held in memory that are known to be misleading for behaviour. The authors discuss extant evidence on this topic and argue that obligatory functional coupling between working memory and attentional selection reflects a default property of the brain which is hardwired in overlapping substrates for memory and perception. They further argue that the neuroanatomical substrates for working memory biases in vision are distinct from the classical fronto-parietal networks involved in attentional control and distinct from the mechanisms that mediate attention biases from long-term memory. Finally the authors present emerging evidence that working memory ‘guiding’ processes may operate outside conscious awareness.

Keywords: working memory, attention, perception, awareness, vision

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