We investigated the hypothesis that the covert focusing of spatial attention mediates the on-line maintenance of location information in spatial working memory. During the delay period of a spatial working-memory task, behaviorally irrelevant probe stimuli were flashed at both memorized and nonmemorized locations. Multichannel recordings of event-related potentials (ERPs) were used to assess visual processing of the probes at the different locations. Consistent with the hypothesis of attention-based rehearsal, early ERP components were enlarged in response to probes that appeared at memorized locations. These visual modulations were similar in latency and topography to those observed after explicit manipulations of spatial selective attention in a parallel experimental condition that employed an identical stimulus display.

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