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Svenja Marx, Wolfgang Einhäuser; Reward modulates perception in binocular rivalry. Journal of Vision 2015;15(1):11. doi: 10.1167/15.1.11.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Our perception does not provide us with an exact imprint of the outside world, but is continuously adapted to our internal expectations, task sets, and behavioral goals. Although effects of reward—or value in general—on perception therefore seem likely, how valuation modulates perception and how such modulation relates to attention is largely unknown. We probed effects of reward on perception by using a binocular-rivalry paradigm. Distinct gratings drifting in opposite directions were presented to each observer's eyes. To objectify their subjective perceptual experience, the optokinetic nystagmus was used as measure of current perceptual dominance. In a first experiment, one of the percepts was either rewarded or attended. We found that reward and attention similarly biased perception. In a second experiment, observers performed an attentionally demanding task either on the rewarded stimulus, the other stimulus, or both. We found that—on top of an attentional effect on perception—at each level of attentional load, reward still modulated perception by increasing the dominance of the rewarded percept. Similarly, penalizing one percept increased dominance of the other at each level of attentional load. In turn, rewarding—and similarly nonpunishing—a percept yielded performance benefits that are typically associated with selective attention. In conclusion, our data show that value modulates perception in a similar way as the volitional deployment of attention, even though the relative effect of value is largely unaffected by an attention task.
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