Complementary attentional components of successful memory encoding

Nicholas B. Turk-Browne, Julie D. Golomb, Marvin M. Chun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Attention during encoding improves later memory, but how this happens is poorly understood. To investigate the role of attention in memory formation, we combined a variant of a spatial attention cuing task with a subsequent memory fMRI design. Scene stimuli were presented in the periphery to either the left or right of fixation, preceded by a central face cue whose gaze oriented attention to the probable location of the scene. We contrasted activity for scenes appearing in cued versus uncued locations to identify: (1) regions where cuing facilitated processing, and (2) regions involved in reorienting. We then tested how activity in these facilitation and reorienting regions of interest predicted subsequent long-term memory for individual scenes. In facilitation regions such as parahippocampal cortex, greater activity during encoding predicted memory success. In reorienting regions such as right temporoparietal junction, greater activity during encoding predicted memory failure. We interpret these results as evidence that memory formation benefits from attentional facilitation of perceptual processing combined with suppression of the ventral attention network to prevent reorienting to distractors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-562
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


  • Episodic memory
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Scene processing
  • Spatial attention
  • Subsequent memory
  • Ventral attention network


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