The role of prior exposure on the capture of attention by items in working memory


The Biased Competition Model (BCM) suggests both top-down and bottom-up biases operate on selective attention (e.g., Desimone & Duncan, 1995). It has been suggested that top-down control signals may arise from working memory. In support, Downing (2000) found faster responses to probes presented in the location of stimuli held vs. not held in working memory. Soto, Heinke, Humphreys, and Blanco (2005) showed the involuntary nature of this effect and that shared features between stimuli were sufficient to attract attention. Here we show that stimuli held in working memory had an influence on the deployment of attentional resources even when: (1) It was detrimental to the task, (2) there was equal prior exposure, and (3) there was no bottom-up priming. These results provide further support for involuntary top-down guidance of attention from working memory and the basic tenets of the BCM, but further discredit the notion that bottom-up priming is necessary for the effect to occur.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > School of Psychology
College of Health & Life Sciences > Clinical and Systems Neuroscience
Additional Information: This is an electronic version of an article published in Moores, Elisabeth J. and Maxwell, J.P. (2008) The role of prior exposure on the capture of attention by items in working memory. Visual Cognition, 16 (5). pp. 675-695. ISSN 1464-0716 is available online at:
Uncontrolled Keywords: Biased Competition Model,biases,selective attention,working memory,stimuli,Neuroscience(all),Psychology(all),Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
Publication ISSN: 1464-0716
Full Text Link: ... sue=5&spage=675
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2008-07-05
Authors: Moores, Elisabeth (ORCID Profile 0000-0003-3997-0832)
Maxwell, J.P.

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