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The three-embedded-component model of working memory (WM) distinguishes three representational states corresponding to three WM regions: activated long-term memory, direct-access region (DAR), and focus of attention. Recent neuroimaging research has revealed that access to the DAR is associated with enhanced hippocampal activity. Because the hippocampus mediates the encoding and retrieval of item–context associations, it has been suggested that this hippocampal activation is a consequence of the fact that item–context associations are particularly strong and accessible in the DAR. This study provides behavioral evidence for this view using an item-recognition task to assess the effect of non-intentional encoding and maintenance of item–location associations across WM regions. Five pictures of human faces were sequentially presented in different screen locations followed by a recognition probe. Visual cues immediately preceding the probe indicated the location thereof. When probe stimuli appeared in the same location that they had been presented within the memory set, the presentation of the cue was expected to elicit the activation of the corresponding WM representation through the just-established item–location association, resulting in faster recognition. Results showed this same-location effect, but only for items that, according to their serial position within the memory set, were held in the DAR.
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- The special role of item–context associations in the direct-access region of working memory
- Springer Berlin Heidelberg