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An ever increasing amount of research in the fields of developmental psychology and adult cognitive neuroscience explores attentional control as a driver of visual short-term and working memory capacity limits ("VSTM" and "VWM", respectively). However, these literatures have thus far been disparate: they use different measures or different labels, and the constructs of interest often appear to be quite distinct. In the current review, we attempt to bridge these gaps across disciplines and explore the extent to which these two literatures might support one another. In order to do this, we explore five principal questions of interest to members of both communities: (1) To what extent are measures of VSTM, VWM and attentional control commensurate across the developmental and adult literatures? (2) To what extent do individual differences in attentional control account for why some children, just like some adults, show poorer VSTM and VWM capacity than others? (3) Can developmental improvements in VSTM and VWM capacity also be explained by differences in attentional control? (4) What novel insights can be gained by studying the developmental cognitive neuroscience of attention and VSTM and VWM? (5) Can visual short-term and working memory capacity be modulated by training and, if so, how can training effects inform the relationships between attention and VSTM? Throughout, we evaluate the central thesis that variability in attentional control, both between individuals and over development, is a driver of variability in VSTM and VWM capacity.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1435 - 1445


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aging, Attention, Cerebral Cortex, Child, Child, Preschool, Cognition, Human Development, Humans, Memory, Short-Term, Middle Aged, Visual Perception, Young Adult