Attentive tracking disrupts feature binding in visual working memory

Daryl Fougnie, René Marois

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the most influential theories in visual cognition proposes that attention is necessary to bind different visual features into coherent object percepts (Treisman & Gelade, 1980). Although considerable evidence supports a role for attention in perceptual feature binding, whether attention plays a similar function in visual working memory (VWM) remains controversial. To test the attentional requirements of VWM feature binding, here we gave participants an attention-demanding multiple object tracking task during the retention interval of a VWM task. Results show that the tracking task disrupted memory for colour-shape conjunctions above and beyond any impairment to working memory for object features, and that this impairment was larger when the VWM stimuli were presented at different spatial locations. These results demonstrate that the role of visuospatial attention in feature binding is not unique to perception, but extends to the working memory of these perceptual representations as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-66
Number of pages19
JournalVisual Cognition
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Attention
  • Binding
  • Visual working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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