Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America ( IF 9.412 ) Pub Date : 2020-09-14 , DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2013432117 Freek van Ede, Alexander G. Board, Anna C. Nobre
Adaptive behavior relies on the selection of relevant sensory information from both the external environment and internal memory representations. In understanding external selection, a classic distinction is made between voluntary (goal-directed) and involuntary (stimulus-driven) guidance of attention. We have developed a task—the anti-retrocue task—to separate and examine voluntary and involuntary guidance of attention to internal representations in visual working memory. We show that both voluntary and involuntary factors influence memory performance but do so in distinct ways. Moreover, by tracking gaze biases linked to attentional focusing in memory, we provide direct evidence for an involuntary “retro-capture” effect whereby external stimuli involuntarily trigger the selection of feature-matching internal representations. We show that stimulus-driven and goal-directed influences compete for selection in memory, and that the balance of this competition—as reflected in oculomotor signatures of internal attention—predicts the quality of ensuing memory-guided behavior. Thus, goal-directed and stimulus-driven factors together determine the fate not only of perception, but also of internal representations in working memory.