The role of early visual cortex in visual short-term memory and visual attention

Shani Offen, Denis Schluppeck, David J. Heeger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


We measured cortical activity with functional magnetic resonance imaging to probe the involvement of early visual cortex in visual short-term memory and visual attention. In four experimental tasks, human subjects viewed two visual stimuli separated by a variable delay period. The tasks placed differential demands on short-term memory and attention, but the stimuli were visually identical until after the delay period. Early visual cortex exhibited sustained responses throughout the delay when subjects performed attention-demanding tasks, but delay-period activity was not distinguishable from zero when subjects performed a task that required short-term memory. This dissociation reveals different computational mechanisms underlying the two processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1352-1362
Number of pages11
JournalVision research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Jun 2 2009



  • Attention
  • Sustained activity
  • Vision
  • Visual cortex
  • Visual short-term memory
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems

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