Goal-directed attention is usually studied by providing individuals with explicit instructions on what they should attend to. But in daily life, we often use past experiences to guide our attentional states. Given the importance of memory for predicting upcoming events, we hypothesized that memory-guided attention is supported by neural preparation for anticipated attentional states. We examined preparatory coding in the human hippocampus and mPFC, two regions that are important for memory-guided behaviors, in two tasks: one where attention was guided by memory and another in which attention was explicitly instructed. Hippocampus and mPFC exhibited higher activity for memory-guided vs. explicitly instructed attention. Furthermore, representations in both regions contained information about upcoming attentional states. In the hippocampus, this preparation was stronger for memory-guided attention, and occurred alongside stronger coupling with visual cortex during attentional guidance. These results highlight the mechanisms by which memories are used to prepare for upcoming attentional goals.
- Mariam Aly
- Mariam Aly
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at Columbia University (Protocol number: AAAR5338). Written informed consent was obtained from all participants.
- Morgan Barense, University of Toronto, Canada
© 2020, Günseli & Aly
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