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Attention, Imagery, and Memory: A Neuromagnetic Investigation

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Annual technical rept. 1 Mar 1989-28 Feb 1990,

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This report describes work on mental imagery, short term memory scanning, language-related mental tasks, and visual attention. In the field of mental imagery it was found that searching memory to determine if or if not a visual form had been seen before, there is a change in the state of the occipital visual cortex. This change is commensurate in time with the reaction time indicating that the mental search is complete. It was also shown that engaging in language related tasks does not have a similar effect on visual cortex, but it does have a similar effect on temporal cortex. Using visually presented words to initiate a mental imaging task results in related changes in activity of visual cortex, and also temporal cortex. However, when the same words are used in rhyming tasks, the major effect is on left temporal cortex. Using acoustically presented words in a similar task produces parallel results, although the effects on visual cortex are not so reliability found across subjects, and both imaging and rhyming affect temporal cortex, suggesting a role for language in imagery. In another memory scanning experiment subjects attempted to determine if a musical note was or was not a member of a set of previously heard notes. The duration of the change in brain state, implied by suppression of alpha band activity, was related to the size of the memory set, provided that it was recorded in a region that picked up activity originating in temporal areas, probably auditory cortex. SDW

Subject Categories:

  • Psychology
  • Anatomy and Physiology

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