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Poster F34

Does rhythmic temporal coordination help to avoid conflicts between selective attention and working memory?

Poster Session F - Tuesday, April 16, 2024, 8:00 – 10:00 am EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Amber McFerren1 (, Paul Cavanah1, Ian Fiebelkorn1; 1University of Rochester

Daily tasks often employ both selective attention (i.e. external sampling) and working memory (i.e. internal sampling), and previous research indicates that these cognitive processes share neural resources. Here, we recorded EEG while participants (n = 23) completed an experimental task that required either external sampling, internal sampling, or concurrent external and internal sampling. We (and others) have shown that both external sampling during selective attention and internal sampling during working memory are linked to theta-rhythmic neural activity (~4—6Hz). In the context of selective attention, for example, theta-rhythmic neural activity seems to temporally coordinate attention-related sampling (i.e., sensory functions) and shifting (i.e., motor functions). That is, theta-rhythmic neural activity is associated with alternating windows of either enhanced sensory processing or an increased likelihood of shifting to another location. Here, we tested whether theta-rhythmic external sampling during selective attention and theta-rhythmic internal sampling during working memory are associated with the same neural resources. We further tested whether putting these cognitive processes in conflict would lead to theta-rhythmic coordination of external and internal sampling (i.e., these processes occurring at different theta phases). Our results indicate that the specific theta phase associated with better behavioral performance is the same during trials that require external and internal sampling. Rather than theta-rhythmic coordination during dual-task trials, we observed interactions between these processes when an externally sampled stimulus matched the already presented, to-be-remembered stimulus. Our findings are consistent with a shared rhythmic sampling process that can perhaps be directed toward either external information or internally stored information.

Topic Area: ATTENTION: Spatial


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April 13–16  |  2024