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Finding the answer in space: the mental whiteboard hypothesis on serial order in working memory

(2014) FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE. 8(November). p.1-12
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The integrative neuroscience of behavioral control (Neuroscience)
Abstract
Various prominent models on serial order coding in working memory (WM) build on the notion that serial order is achieved by binding the various items to-be-maintained to fixed position markers. Despite being relatively successful in accounting for empirical observations and some recent neuro-imaging support, these models were largely formulated on theoretical grounds and few specifications have been provided with respect to the cognitive and/or neural nature of these position markers. Here we outline a hypothesis on a novel candidate mechanism to substantiate the notion of serial position markers. Specifically, we propose that serial order WM is grounded in the spatial attention system: (I) The position markers that provide multi-item WM with a serial context should be understood as coordinates within an internal, spatially defined system; (II) internal spatial attention is involved in searching through the resulting serial order representation; and (III) retrieval corresponds to selection by spatial attention. We sketch the available empirical support and discuss how the hypothesis may provide a parsimonious framework from which to understand a broad range of observations across behavioral, neural and neuropsychological domains. Finally, we pinpoint what we believe are major questions for future research inspired by the hypothesis.
Keywords
BRAIN-DAMAGE, FMRI EVIDENCE, serial order, working memory, space, positional models, position marker, spatial attention, hypothesis, NEGLECT DYSLEXIA, VISUAL-ATTENTION, NUMBER LINE, SELECTIVE ATTENTION, SPATIAL ATTENTION, LEFT INTRAPARIETAL SULCUS, POSTERIOR PARIETAL CORTEX, HORT-TERM-MEMORY

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
Abrahamse, Elger, Jean-Philippe van Dijck, Steve Majerus, and Wim Fias. 2014. “Finding the Answer in Space: The Mental Whiteboard Hypothesis on Serial Order in Working Memory.” Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8 (November): 1–12.
APA
Abrahamse, E., van Dijck, J.-P., Majerus, S., & Fias, W. (2014). Finding the answer in space: the mental whiteboard hypothesis on serial order in working memory. FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE, 8(November), 1–12.
Vancouver
1.
Abrahamse E, van Dijck J-P, Majerus S, Fias W. Finding the answer in space: the mental whiteboard hypothesis on serial order in working memory. FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE. 2014;8(November):1–12.
MLA
Abrahamse, Elger et al. “Finding the Answer in Space: The Mental Whiteboard Hypothesis on Serial Order in Working Memory.” FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE 8.November (2014): 1–12. Print.
@article{5803673,
  abstract     = {Various prominent models on serial order coding in working memory (WM) build on the notion that serial order is achieved by binding the various items to-be-maintained to fixed position markers. Despite being relatively successful in accounting for empirical observations and some recent neuro-imaging support, these models were largely formulated on theoretical grounds and few specifications have been provided with respect to the cognitive and/or neural nature of these position markers. Here we outline a hypothesis on a novel candidate mechanism to substantiate the notion of serial position markers. Specifically, we propose that serial order WM is grounded in the spatial attention system: (I) The position markers that provide multi-item WM with a serial context should be understood as coordinates within an internal, spatially defined system; (II) internal spatial attention is involved in searching through the resulting serial order representation; and (III) retrieval corresponds to selection by spatial attention. We sketch the available empirical support and discuss how the hypothesis may provide a parsimonious framework from which to understand a broad range of observations across behavioral, neural and neuropsychological domains. Finally, we pinpoint what we believe are major questions for future research inspired by the hypothesis.},
  articleno    = {932},
  author       = {Abrahamse, Elger and van Dijck, Jean-Philippe and Majerus, Steve and Fias, Wim},
  issn         = {1662-5161},
  journal      = {FRONTIERS IN HUMAN NEUROSCIENCE},
  keywords     = {BRAIN-DAMAGE,FMRI EVIDENCE,serial order,working memory,space,positional models,position marker,spatial attention,hypothesis,NEGLECT DYSLEXIA,VISUAL-ATTENTION,NUMBER LINE,SELECTIVE ATTENTION,SPATIAL ATTENTION,LEFT INTRAPARIETAL SULCUS,POSTERIOR PARIETAL CORTEX,HORT-TERM-MEMORY},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {November},
  pages        = {932:1--932:12},
  title        = {Finding the answer in space: the mental whiteboard hypothesis on serial order in working memory},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00932},
  volume       = {8},
  year         = {2014},
}

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