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CCN Brown Bag Series

Wednesday, September 20, 2017,
  • Location: Wilson Hall
  • Room: 115

Geoff Woodman, PhD

Department of Psychology

Vanderbilt University

“Measuring long-term memory and working memory as they control attention trial by trial” 

Theories of attention propose that representations in working memory control the focusing of attention. However, our recent work using human event-related potentials (ERPs) and brain stimulation suggests that long-term memories may be the dominant force in controlling attention. Specifically, when a subject searches for the same object for several seconds, control is rapidly handed off to long-term memory. We find neural signatures of working memory are only observed for a handful of trials after we start searching for a new target, when we want to speed attentional selection on a given trial. Converging evidence using transcranial direct-current stimulation indicates that long-term memories can even have rapid effects, allowing us optimally focus attention within one trial. I will conclude by discussing our modeling framework that integrates these cognitive neuroscientific findings into a computational model that can predict the involvement of working memory and long-term memory from an individual’s behavior.