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Working memory may compensate for lack of attention

To remember a sequence of events, the brain focuses its efforts on the one paid the least attention

Society for Neuroscience

A study in eNeuro shows that, when remembering a sequence of events, the brain focuses on the event paid the least attention, rather than replaying the events in the order they occurred. This finding suggests that attention during the initial encoding of a memory influences how information is manipulated in working memory.

Anna Jafarpour and colleagues presented adults with a series of three images to remember. After a five-second delay, participants were presented with one of the images and asked whether it was shown from the same perspective (front, left or right views) as in the original sequence and in what position (1, 2 or 3) the image had been presented. The authors found that the image that generated the weakest response in the brain during encoding was most strongly replayed during the delay period. This result may indicate that the brain addresses the limitations of working memory capacity by focusing on the event that requires the most effort to remember.

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Article: Working memory replay prioritizes weakly attended events
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0171-17.2017

Corresponding author: Anna Jafarpour (University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA), a.jafarpour@berkeley.edu

About eNeuro

eNeuro is an online, open-access journal published by the Society for Neuroscience. Established in 2014, eNeuro publishes a wide variety of content, including research articles, short reports, reviews, commentaries and opinions.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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