The focus of attention can be flexibly altered in mnemonic representations of past sensory events. We investigated the neural mechanisms of selection in tactile STM by applying vibrotactile sample stimuli of different intensities to both hands, followed by a symmetrically shaped visual retro-cue. The retro-cue indicated whether the weak or strong sample was relevant for subsequent comparison with a single tactile test stimulus. Locations of tactile stimuli were randomized, and the required response did not depend upon the spatial relation between cued sample and test stimulus. Selection between spatially segregated items in tactile STM was mirrored in lateralized activity following visual retro-cues (N2pc) and influenced encoding of task-irrelevant tactile probe stimuli (N140). Our findings support four major conclusions. First, retrospective selection results in transient shifts of spatial attention. Second, retrospective selection is functionally dissociable from attention-based rehearsal of locations. Third, selection mechanisms are linked across processing stages, as attention shifts in STM influence encoding of sensory signals. Fourth, selection in tactile STM recruits attentional control mechanisms that are, at least partially, supramodal.
|Number of pages||14|
|Journal||Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience|
|Early online date||29 May 2012|
|Publication status||Published - Jul 2012|