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Risa Sawaki, Jane Raymond, Steven Luck; Active attentional suppression of reward-predicting information: Electrophysiological evidence. Journal of Vision 2012;12(9):4. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/12.9.4.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
In many situations, cues are available that predict reward value of an action without predicting which specific action will result in reward. It may be tempting to focus attention toward these cues, but this could actually distract attention away from the information needed to achieve the reward, causing a performance error (e.g. missing a target because attention was focused on the cue). In such situations, cognitive control may require rapid attentional suppression of reward-predicting stimuli in order to maximize performance in an ongoing task. The present study investigated this issue by using a reward-cuing task and ERP measures. First, a cue array appeared, indicating whether a low or high reward would be available on that trial. After a blank interval, a circle target and a square distractor were presented (search array). Subjects were instructed to report whether the circle target had a notch on its top or bottom. A correct response to the search array yielded an immediate low or high monetary reward, as indicated by the preceding cue. Therefore, the reward cue predicted the reward value of the correct response, but it did not predict the location of the target or the correct response. Reaction time to the search array was shorter when the high-reward cue preceded it, indicating that the cue was processed. However, ERP recordings showed that the high-reward cue was actively suppressed (as indexed by the Pd component) and perceptual competition between target and distractor in the search array was weakened on the high-reward trials (as indexed by N2pc component). These findings suggest that a high-reward cue produces an attentional priority signal, but this signal is actively suppressed to maximize performance in the ongoing task.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2012
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