The right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) is critical for stimulus-driven attention and visual awareness. Here we show that as the visual short-term memory (VSTM) load of a task increases, activity in this region is increasingly suppressed. Correspondingly, increasing VSTM load impairs the ability of subjects to consciously detect the presence of a novel, unexpected object in the visual field. These results not only demonstrate that VSTM load suppresses TPJ activity and induces inattentional blindness, but also offer a plausible neural mechanism for this perceptual deficit: suppression of the stimulus-driven attentional network.
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