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Spatial Selection of Features within Perceived and Remembered Objects

Frontiers in Human Neuroscience
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
DOI: 10.3389/neuro.09.006.2009
  • Neuroscience
  • Original Research


Our representation of the visual world can be modulated by spatially specific attentional biases that depend flexibly on task goals. We compared searching for task-relevant features in perceived versus remembered objects. When searching perceptual input, selected task-relevant and suppressed task-irrelevant features elicited contrasting spatiotopic ERP effects, despite them being perceptually identical. This was also true when participants searched a memory array, suggesting that memory had retained the spatial organization of the original perceptual input and that this representation could be modulated in a spatially specific fashion. However, task-relevant selection and task-irrelevant suppression effects were of the opposite polarity when searching remembered compared to perceived objects. We suggest that this surprising result stems from the nature of feature- and object-based representations when stored in visual short-term memory. When stored, features are integrated into objects, meaning that the spatially specific selection mechanisms must operate upon objects rather than specific feature-level representations.

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