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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

January 2012, Vol. 24, No. 1, Pages 28-38
(doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_00054)
© 2011 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Functional Imaging Reveals Working Memory and Attention Interact to Produce the Attentional Blink
Article PDF (243.86 KB)

If two centrally presented visual stimuli occur within approximately half a second of each other, the second target often fails to be reported correctly. This effect, called the attentional blink (AB; Raymond, J. E., Shapiro, K. L., & Arnell, K. M. Temporary suppression of visual processing in an RSVP task: An attentional blink? Journal of Experimental Psychology, Human Perception and Performance, 18, 849–860, 1992], has been attributed to a resource “bottleneck,” likely arising as a failure of attention during encoding into or retrieval from visual working memory (WM). Here we present participants with a hybrid WM–AB study while they undergo fMRI to provide insight into the neural underpinnings of this bottleneck. Consistent with a WM-based bottleneck account, fronto-parietal brain areas exhibited a WM load-dependent modulation of neural responses during the AB task. These results are consistent with the view that WM and attention share a capacity-limited resource and provide insight into the neural structures that underlie resource allocation in tasks requiring joint use of WM and attention.