Perception, Attention, and Short-Term Memory Deficits

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Consider examples of short-term memory loss: of entering a room and forgetting your reason for doing so. Also consider distortions of perception and attention.

Individuals can experience difficulty recognizing an object, focusing their attention, or maintaining their short-term memories. Such examples are routine: they occur among many individuals whose brain function resides within the realm of “normal.”

Consider the potential effects on perception, attention, and short-term memory function by damage to different areas of the brain. Also consider the notion that these processes are core elements of higher-level cognitive functions such as language, capacity for abstract thought, and ability to construct plans. These critical brain activities depend on perception, attention, and memory.

For this Application Assignment, you explore effects of psychological and traumatic conditions on cognitive functioning.

The Assignment: (5–7 pages)

  • Consider the condition of autism and do some quick scholarly research on the topic
  • Provide a brief overview of Autism
  • Explain the nature of the condition in terms of how the following cognitive functions of perception, attention, and short-term memory may be affected among those diagnosed with Autism
  • Explain the effects of medications and other treatment strategies and how they may help with the cognitive functions of perception, attention, and short-term memory.

Support your response using at minimum of 3 scholarly references. APA Format. 5-7 pages.

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ANRV331-PS59-08 ARI 1 December 2007 16:37 AR Further Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2008.59:193-224. Downloaded from by WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY on 09/05/11. For personal use only. Click here for quick links to Annual Reviews content online, including: • Other articles in this volume • Top cited articles • Top downloaded articles • AR’s comprehensive search The Mind and Brain of Short-Term Memory John Jonides, Richard L. Lewis, Derek Evan Nee, Cindy A. Lustig, Marc G. Berman, and Katherine Sledge Moore Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109; email: Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2008. 59:193–224 Key Words First published online as a Review in Advance on September 12, 2007 working memory, attention, encoding, storage, retrieval The Annual Review of Psychology is online at This article’s doi: 10.1146/annurev.psych.59.103006.093615 c 2008 by Annual Reviews. Copyright  All rights reserved 0066-4308/08/0203-0193$20.00 Abstract The past 10 years have brought near-revolutionary changes in psychological theories about short-term memory, with similarly great advances in the neurosciences. Here, we critically examine the major psychological theories (the “mind”) of short-term memory and how they relate to evidence about underlying brain mechanisms. We focus on three features that must be addressed by any satisfactory theory of short-term memory. First, we examine the evidence for the architecture of short-term memory, with special attention to questions of capacity and how—or whether—short-term memory can be separated from long-term memory. Second, we ask how the components of that architecture enact processes of encoding, maintenance, and retrieval. Third, we describe the debate over the reason about forgetting from short-term memory, whether interference or decay is the cause. We close with a conceptual model tracing the representation of a single item through a short-term memory task, describing the biological mechanisms that might support psychological processes on a moment-by-moment basis as an item is encoded, maintained over a delay with some forgetting, and ultimately retrieved. 193 ANRV331-PS59-08 ARI 1 December 2007 16:37 Contents Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2008.59:193-224. Downloaded from by WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY on 09/05/11. For personal use only. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . WHAT IS THE STRUCTURE OF SHORT-TERM MEMORY? . Multistore Models that Differentiate Short- and Long-Term Memory . . . . . . . . . . Unitary-Store Models that Combine Short-Term and Long-Term Memory . . . . . . . . . . Controversies over Capacity . . . . . . Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . WHAT PROCESSES OPERATE ON THE STORED INFORMATION? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . The Three Core Processes of Short-Term Memory: Encoding, Maintenance, and Retrieval . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Neural Mechanisms of Short- and Long-Term Memory Retrieval . 194 195 195 197 199 201 202 202 205 INTRODUCTION Mentally add 324 and 468. Follow the instructions to complete any form for your federal income taxes. Read and comprehend this sentence. What are the features of the memory system that allows us to complete these and other complex tasks? Consider the opening example. First, you must create a temporary representation in memory for the two numbers. This representation needs to survive for several seconds to complete the task. You must then allocate your attention to different portions of the representation so that you can apply the rules of arithmetic required by the task. By one strategy, you need to focus attention on the “tens” digits (“2” and “6”) and mitigate interference from the other digits (e.g., “3” and “4”) and from partial results of previous operations (e.g., the “12” that results from 194 Jonides et al. The Relationship of Short-Term Memory Processes to Rehearsal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . WHY DO WE FORGET? . . . . . . . . . . Decay Theories: Intuitive but Problematic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Interference Theories: Comprehensive but Complex . . Interference Effects in Short-Term Memory . . . . . . . . A SUMMARY OF PRINCIPLES AND AN ILLUSTRATION OF SHORT-TERM MEMORY AT WORK . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Principles of Short-Term Memory . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Sketch of Short-Term Memory at Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Postscript: Revisiting Complex Cognition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206 207 207 210 210 212 212 213 216 adding “4” and “8”). While attending to local portions of the problem, you must also keep accessible the parts of the problem that are not in the current focus of attention (e.g., that you now have the units digit “2” as a portion of the final answer). These tasks implicate a short-term memory (STM). In fact, there is hardly a task that can be completed without the involvement of STM, making it a critical component of cognition. Our review relates the psychological phenomena of STM to their underlying neural mechanisms. The review is motivated by three questions that any adequate account of STM must address: 1. What is its structure? A proper theory must describe an architecture for short-term storage. Candidate components of this architecture include storage buffers, a moving and varying focus of attention, or traces with differing levels of activation. In all cases, it is essential to provide ANRV331-PS59-08 ARI 1 December 2007 16:37 a mechanism that allows a representation to exist beyond the sensory stimulation that caused it or the process that retrieved the representation from long-term memory (LTM). This architecture should be clear about its psychological constructs. Furthermore, being clear about the neural mechanisms that implement those constructs will aid in development of psychological theory, as we illustrate below. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2008.59:193-224. Downloaded from by WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY on 09/05/11. For personal use only. 2. What processes operate on the stored information? A proper theory must articulate the processes that create and operate on representations. Candidate processes include encoding and maintenance operations, rehearsal, shifts of attention from one part of the representation to another, and retrieval mechanisms. Some of these processes are often classified as executive functions. 3. What causes forgetting? A complete theory of STM must account for the facts of forgetting. Traditionally, the two leading contending accounts of forgetting have relied on the concepts of decay and interference. We review the behavioral and neurophysiological evidence that has traditionally been brought to the table to distinguish decay and interference accounts, and we suggest a possible mechanism for short-term forgetting. Most models of STM fall between two extremes: Multistore models view STM and LTM as architecturally separate systems that rely on distinct representations. By contrast, according to unitary-store models, STM and LTM rely largely on the same representations, but differ by (a) the level of activation of these representations and (b) some of the processes that normally act upon them. We focus on the distinctions drawn by these theories as we examine the evidence concerning the three questions that motivate our review. In this discussion, we assume that a representation in memory consists of a bundle of features that define a memorandum, including the context in which that memorandum was encountered. WHAT IS THE STRUCTURE OF SHORT-TERM MEMORY? Multistore Models that Differentiate Short- and Long-Term Memory In his Principles of Psychology, William James (1890) articulated the view that short-term (“primary”) memory is qualitatively different from long-term (“secondary”) memory (see also Hebb 1949). The most influential successor to this view is the model of STM developed by Baddeley and colleagues (e.g., Baddeley 1986, 1992; Baddeley & Hitch 1974; Repov & Baddeley 2006). For the years 1980 to 2006, of the 16,154 papers that cited “working memory” in their titles or abstracts, fully 7339 included citations to Alan Baddeley. According to Baddeley’s model, there are separate buffers for different forms of information. These buffers, in turn, are separate from LTM. A verbal buffer, the phonological loop, is assumed to hold information that can be rehearsed verbally (e.g., letters, digits). A visuospatial sketchpad is assumed to maintain visual information and can be further fractionated into visual/object and spatial stores (Repov & Baddeley 2006, Smith et al. 1995). An episodic buffer that draws on the other buffers and LTM has been added to account for the retention of multimodal information (Baddeley 2000). In addition to the storage buffers described above, a central executive is proposed to organize the interplay between the various buffers and LTM and is implicated in controlled processing. In short, the multistore model includes several distinctions: (a) STM is distinct from LTM, (b) STM can be stratified into different informational buffers based on information type, and (c) storage and executive processes are distinguishable. Evidence in support of these claims has relied on behavioral interference studies, neuropsychological studies, and neuroimaging data. Evidence for the distinction between short- and long-term memory. Studies of brain-injured patients who show a deficit • The Mind and Brain of Short-Term Memory 195 ARI 1 December 2007 16:37 in STM but not LTM or vice versa lead to the implication that STM and LTM are separate systems.1 Patients with parietal and temporal lobe damage show impaired short-term phonological capabilities but intact LTM (Shallice & Warrington 1970, Vallar & Papagno 2002). Conversely, it is often claimed that patients with medial temporal lobe (MTL) damage demonstrate impaired LTM but preserved STM (e.g., Baddeley & Warrington 1970, Scoville & Milner 1957; we reinterpret these effects below). Neuroimaging data from healthy subjects have yielded mixed results, however. A metaanalysis comparing regions activated during verbal LTM and STM tasks indicated a great deal of overlap in neural activation for the tasks in the frontal and parietal lobes (Cabeza et al. 2002, Cabeza & Nyberg 2000). Three studies that directly compared LTM and STM in the same subjects did reveal some regions selective for each memory system (Braver et al. 2001, Cabeza et al. 2002, Talmi et al. 2005). Yet, of these studies, only one found that the MTL was uniquely activated for LTM (Talmi et al. 2005). What might account for the discrepancy between the neuropsychological and neuroimaging data? One possibility is that neuroimaging tasks of STM often use longer retention intervals than those employed for neuropsychological tasks, making the STM tasks more similar to LTM tasks. In fact, several studies have shown that the MTL is important when retention intervals are longer than a few seconds (Buffalo et al. 1998, Cabeza et al. 2002, Holdstock et al. 1995, Owen et al. 1995). Of the studies that compared STM and LTM in the same subjects, only Talmi et al. (2005) used an STM retention interval shorter than five seconds. This study did find, in fact, that the MTL was uniquely recruited at longer retention Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2008.59:193-224. Downloaded from by WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY on 09/05/11. For personal use only. ANRV331-PS59-08 1 Another line of neural evidence about the separability of short- and long-term memory comes from electrophysiological studies of animals engaged in short-term memory tasks. We review this evidence and its interpretation in The Architecture of Unitary-Store Models section. 196 Jonides et al. intervals, providing support for the earlier neuropsychological work dissociating longand short-term memory. As we elaborate below, however, there are other possible interpretations, especially with regard to the MTL’s role in memory. Evidence for separate buffers in shortterm memory. The idea that STM can be parceled into information-specific buffers first received support from a series of studies of selective interference (e.g., Brooks 1968, den Heyer & Barrett 1971). These studies relied on the logic that if two tasks use the same processing mechanisms, they should show interfering effects on one another if performed concurrently. This work showed a double dissociation: Verbal tasks interfered with verbal STM but not visual STM, and visual tasks interfered with visual STM but not verbal STM, lending support to the idea of separable memory systems (for reviews, see Baddeley 1986 and Baddeley & Hitch 1974). The advent of neuroimaging has allowed researchers to investigate the neural correlates of the reputed separability of STM buffers. Verbal STM has been shown to rely primarily on left inferior frontal and left parietal cortices, spatial STM on right posterior dorsal frontal and right parietal cortices, and object/visual STM on left inferior frontal, left parietal, and left inferior temporal cortices (e.g., Awh et al. 1996, Jonides et al. 1993, Smith & Jonides 1997; see review by Wager & Smith 2003). Verbal STM shows a marked left hemisphere preference, whereas spatial and object STM can be distinguished mainly by a dorsal versus ventral separation in posterior cortices (consistent with Ungerleider & Haxby 1994; see Baddeley 2003 for an account of the function of these regions in the service of STM). The more recently postulated episodic buffer arose from the need to account for interactions between STM buffers and LTM. For example, the number of words recalled in an STM experiment can be greatly increased if the words form a sentence (Baddeley et al. Annu. Rev. Psychol. 2008.59:193-224. Downloaded from by WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY on 09/05/11. For personal use only. ANRV331-PS59-08 ARI 1 December 2007 16:37 1987). This “chunking” together of words to increase short-term capacity relies on additional information from LTM that can be used to integrate the words (Baddeley 2000). Thus, there must be some representational space that allows for the integration of information stored in the phonological loop and LTM. This ability to integrate information from STM and LTM is relatively preserved even when one of these memory systems is damaged (Baddeley & Wilson 2002, Baddeley et al. 1987). These data provide support for an episodic buffer that is separable from other short-term buffers and from LTM (Baddeley 2000, Baddeley & Wilson 2002). Although neural evidence about the possible localization of this buffer is thin, there is some suggestion that dorsolateral prefrontal cortex plays a role (Prabhakaran et al. 2000, Zhang et al. 2004). cortex and posterior parietal cortex (Wager & Smith 2003). By contrast, storage processes recruit predominately posterior areas in primary and secondary association cortex. These results corroborate the evidence from lesion studies and support the distinction between storage and executive processing. Evidence for separate storage and executive processes. Baddeley’s multistore model assumes that a collection of processes act upon the information stored in the various buffers. Jointly termed the “central executive,” these processes are assumed to be separate from the storage buffers and have been associated with the frontal lobes. Both lesion and neuroimaging data support the distinction between storage and executive processes. For example, patients with frontal damage have intact STM under conditions of low distraction (D’Esposito & Postle 1999, 2000; Malmo 1942). However, when distraction is inserted during a delay interval, thereby requiring the need for executive processes to overcome interference, patients with frontal damage show significant memory deficits (D’Esposito & Postle 1999, 2000). By contrast, patients with left temporo-parietal damage show deficits in phonological storage, regardless of the effects of interference (Vallar & Baddeley 1984, Vallar & Papagno 2002). Consistent with these patterns, a metaanalysis of 60 functional neuroimaging studies indicated that increased demand for executive processing recruits dorsolateral frontal Contesting the idea of separate long-term and short-term systems. The key data supporting separable short-term and long-term systems come from neuropsychology. To review, the critical contrast is between patients who show severely impaired LTM with apparently normal STM (e.g., Cave & Squire 1992, Scoville & Milner 1957) and those who show impaired STM with apparently normal LTM (e.g., Shallice & Warrington 1970). However, questions have been raised about whether these neuropsychological studies do, in fact, support the claim that STM and LTM are separable. A central question is the role of the medial temporal lobe. It is well established that the MTL is critical for long-term declarative memory formation and retrieval (Gabrieli et al. 1997, Squire 1992). However, is the MTL also engaged by STM tasks? Much research with amnesic patients showing preserved STM would suggest not, but Ranganath & Blumenfeld (2005) have summarized evidence showing that MTL is engaged in short-term tasks (see also Ranganath & D’Esposito 2005 and Nichols et al. 2006). In particular, there is growing evidence that a critical function of the MTL is to Unitary-Store Models that Combine Short-Term and Long-Term Memory The multistore models reviewed above combine assumptions about the distinction between short-term and long-term systems, the decomposition of short-term memory into information-specific buffers, and the separation of systems of storage from executive functions. We now consider unitary models that reject the first assumption concerning distinct systems. • The Mind and Brain of Short-Term Memory 197 ARI 1 December 2007 16:37 establish representations that involve novel relations. These relations may be among features or items, or between items and their context. By this view, episodic memory is a special case of such relations (e.g., relating a list of words to the experimental context in which the list was recently presented), and the special role of the MTL concerns its binding capabilities, not the timescale on which it operates. STM that is apparently preserved in amnesic patients may thus reflect a preserved ability to maintain and retrieve information that does not require novel relations or binding, in keeping with their preserved retrieval of remote memories consolidated before the amnesia-inducing lesion. If this view is correct, then amnesic patients should show deficits in situations that require STM for novel relations, which they do (Hannula et al. 2005, Olson et al. 2006b). They also show STM deficits for novel materials (e.g., Buffalo et al. 1998, Holdstock et al. 1995, Olson et al. 1995, 2006a). As mentioned above, electrophysiological and neuroimaging studies support the claim that the MTL is active in support of short-term memories (e.g., Miyashita & Chang 1968, Ranganath & D’Esposito 2001). Taken together, the MTL appears to operate in both STM and LTM to create novel representations, including novel bindings of items to context. Additional evidence for the STM-LTM distinction comes from patients with perisylvian cortical lesions who are often claimed to have selective deficits in STM (e.g., Hanley et al. 1991, Warrington & Shallice 1969). However, these deficits may be substantially perceptual. For example, patients with left perisylvian damage that results in STM deficits also have deficits in phonological processing in general, which suggests a deficit that extends beyond STM per se ...
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