The contribution of working memory to divided attention

Valerio Santangelo, Emiliano Macaluso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Previous studies have indicated that increasing working memory (WM) load can affect the attentional selection of signals originating from one object/location. Here we assessed whether WM load affects also the selection of multiple objects/locations (divided attention). Participants monitored either two object-categories (vs. one category; object-based divided attention) or two locations (vs. one location; space-based divided attention) while maintaining in WM either a variable number of objects (object-based WM load) or locations (space-based WM load). Behavioural results showed that WM load affected attentional performance irrespective of divided or focused attention. However, fMRI results showed that the activity associated with object-based divided attention increased linearly with increasing object-based WM load in the left and right intraparietal sulcus (IPS); while, in the same areas, activity associated with space-based divided attention was not affected by any type of WM load. These findings support the hypothesis that WM contributes to the maintenance of resource-demanding attentional sets in a domain-specific manner. Moreover, the dissociable impact of WM load on performance and brain activity suggests that increased IPS activation reflects a recruitment of additional, domain-specific processing resources that enable dual-task performance under conditions of high WM load and high attentional demand.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)158-175
Number of pages18
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Volume34
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

Keywords

  • Divided
  • FMRI
  • Focused
  • Intraparietal sulcus
  • Load
  • Spatial attention
  • Working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anatomy
  • Neurology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology

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