Colloquium Vision Science

14 June 2016
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Klaus Oberauer is one the most influential working memory researchers of these days. He published a number of landmark papers on the nature of working memory, referring to its architecture, individual differences or capacity limitations. In terms of methods, he works as an experimentalist as well as a modeller (cognitive, connectionist). His talk will focus on the relationship between attention and working memory.

Working memory and attention

Many theorists have argued for a close link between the concepts of working memory and attention. I will propose a theoretical framework for this relation: Attention – the selection of representations – can be directed to perceptual input or to memory. Selection of representations from memory occurs on several levels: On a first level, a small set of representations is made directly accessible; they form the current contents of working memory. On a second level, a single representation is selected from working memory as the object of a cognitive operation; it constitutes the focus of attention in working memory. The same two levels of selection apply to declarative representations – selection of memory sets, and items within memory sets – and to procedural representations – selections of task sets, and responses within task sets. I will present experiments demonstrating analogous selection processes for declarative and procedural representations, and a computational model explaining these processes.