Looking ahead in working memory to guide sequential behaviour

F. van Ede, J. Deden, A.C. Nobre

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


© 2021 The AuthorsWorking memory can maintain multiple sensory representations to serve unfolding sequential behaviour, such as while making tea or planning a route. How the human mind juggles internal representations as they become relevant to guide sequential behaviour remains poorly understood. Specifically, while there is good evidence that we can flexibly switch priorities among representations in working memory1–4, it is unclear how and when dormant memory representations are brought into focus during sequential behaviour. Capitalising on a recently established and temporally precise gaze marker of internal selection5,6, we reveal that the focus in the mind moves to the next-relevant memory representation while behaviour associated with the presently relevant memory representation is still ongoing. Thus, like visual sampling of external objects in the world7–9, internal visual sampling also ‘looks ahead’ to the next object in memory during sequential behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R779-R780
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2021


This research was supported by an ERC Starting Grant from the European Research Council (MEMTICIPATION, 850636) to F.v.E., a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award (104571/Z/14/Z) and a James S. McDonnell Foundation Understanding Human Cognition Collaborative Award (220020448) to A.C.N., and by the NIHR Oxford Health Biomedical Research Centre. The Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging is supported by core funding from the Wellcome Trust (203139/Z/16/Z). We also thank Dejan Draschkow for his input. This research was funded in part by the Wellcome Trust (Grant numbers 104571/Z/14/Z, 203139/Z/16/Z).

FundersFunder number
James S. McDonnell Foundation220020448
Wellcome Trust104571/Z/14/Z
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme850636
European Research Council
NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre203139/Z/16/Z


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