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Dissociable effects of top-down and bottom-up attention during episodic encoding.

It is well established that the formation of memories for life's experiences-episodic memory-is influenced by how we attend to those experiences, yet the neural mechanisms by which attention shapes episodic encoding are still unclear. We investigated how top-down and bottom-up attention contribute to memory encoding of visual objects in humans by manipulating both types of attention during fMRI of episodic memory formation. We show that dorsal parietal cortex-specifically, intraparietal sulcus (IPS)-was engaged during top-down attention and was also recruited during the successful formation of episodic memories. By contrast, bottom-up attention engaged ventral parietal cortex-specifically, temporoparietal junction (TPJ)-and was also more active during encoding failure. Functional connectivity analyses revealed further dissociations in how top-down and bottom-up attention influenced encoding: while both IPS and TPJ influenced activity in perceptual cortices thought to represent the information being encoded (fusiform/lateral occipital cortex), they each exerted opposite effects on memory encoding. Specifically, during a preparatory period preceding stimulus presentation, a stronger drive from IPS was associated with a higher likelihood that the subsequently attended stimulus would be encoded. By contrast, during stimulus processing, stronger connectivity with TPJ was associated with a lower likelihood the stimulus would be successfully encoded. These findings suggest that during encoding of visual objects into episodic memory, top-down and bottom-up attention can have opposite influences on perceptual areas that subserve visual object representation, suggesting that one manner in which attention modulates memory is by altering the perceptual processing of to-be-encoded stimuli.

Pubmed ID: 21880922


  • Uncapher MR
  • Hutchinson JB
  • Wagner AD


The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Publication Data

August 31, 2011

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: 5R01-MH080309
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: F32 MH084475
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: F32 MH084475-03
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: F32-MH084475
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: R01 MH080309
  • Agency: NIMH NIH HHS, Id: R01 MH080309-04

Mesh Terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Attention
  • Brain Mapping
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Neural Pathways
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Oxygen
  • Parietal Lobe
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Reaction Time
  • Recognition (Psychology)
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Statistics as Topic
  • Young Adult