Do the Contents of Working Memory Capture Attention? Yes, But Cognitive Control Matters

Suk Won Han, Min Shik Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Citations (Scopus)


There has been a controversy on whether working memory can guide attentional selection. Some researchers have reported that the contents of working memory guide attention automatically in visual search (D. Soto, D. Heinke, G. W. Humphreys, & M. J. Blanco, 2005). On the other hand, G.F. Woodman and S. J. Luck (2007) reported that they could not find any evidence of attentional capture by working memory. In the present study, we tried to find an integrative explanation for the different sets of results. We report evidence for attentional capture by working memory, but this effect was eliminated when search was perceptually demanding or the onset of the search was delayed long enough for cognitive control of search to be implemented under particular conditions. We suggest that perceptual difficulty and the time course of cognitive control as important factors that determine when information in working memory influences attention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1292-1302
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Oct

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Do the Contents of Working Memory Capture Attention? Yes, But Cognitive Control Matters'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this