How Selection in the Mind Is Different From Attention to the World

Garry Kong, Daryl Fougnie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Attentional mechanisms allow us to focus on objects that would help us achieve our goals while ignoring those that would distract us. Attention can also be focused internally toward specific items in memory. But does selection within memory work similarly to selection within perception? Perceptual attention is fast and effective at selecting regions of space. Across five experiments, we used a memory search task to investigate whether spatial selection is also efficient for selection in memory. Participants remembered four items on a grid before being asked to access their memory of one item and update one of its features. We found that it took longer to access an item when referenced by its spatial location than by its color, despite memory accuracy for location being superior. We conclude that there must be multiple, distinct memory representations in the brain and that selection in memory is different from perceptual selection

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)542-554
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 9 2021


  • Attention
  • Visual search
  • Visual working memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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