How attention is guided by, and directed to, memory

Eren Günseli
(Columbia University)
Goal-directed actions require reliance on memory systems that store task-relevant information to effectively guide behavior. We can actively keep information in mind in our working memory system; however, this system is very limited in capacity. Thus, to behave efficiently, we should store only the most relevant information in working memory, and keep future goals in capacity-unlimited long-term memory. My research aims to determine how information in these memory systems can direct our attention, and how attention can in turn be directed to our memories. In the first part of my talk, I will discuss behavioral and neural studies exploring how externally-oriented attention can be guided by both working and long-term memory, and how information in these memory systems can either compete or cooperate to effectively direct attention. In the second part of my talk, I will explore the role of attention directed to working memory for the storage and mental manipulation of information. Together, this line of work demonstrates that different memory systems share the responsibility of storing information via their continuous interplay, and highlights the fundamentally interactive nature of attention, working memory, and long-term memory.