Purchase this article with an account.
Clayton Hickey, Ludwig Barbaro, Marius Peelen; Irrational vision: Behavioural and fMRI studies of economic framing in naturalistic visual search. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):1141. doi: 10.1167/16.12.1141.
Download citation file:
© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Rational economics suggests that a gain should have the same value as evasion of equivalent loss. But Kahneman and Tversky famously showed that in decision making this is not the case: how we frame the outcome matters. Is vision equally irrational? Recent studies have shown that stimuli associated with monetary reward come to draw selective attention. If this reflects a rational bias toward objects providing outcome-predictive information, stimuli predicting both gain and the evasion of loss should be prioritized. To test this hypothesis, we cued participants to detect examples of object categories – cars, trees, houses, and people – presented in images of natural scenes. For each category, correct performance resulted in reward (+150 vs. +50), the avoidance of greater loss (-50 vs. -150), or neutral outcome. We modelled results according to two predictions: if selection is driven by a bias toward outcome-predictive stimuli, both predictors of reward and of the avoidance of loss should draw attention equally well. But if selection is driven by gain, only gain-associated stimuli should be prioritized. In a behavioural experiment performance closely followed the gain-only model: accuracy was high when targets predicted reward and low when targets predicted loss avoidance. Moreover, reward-predictive stimuli disrupted search when they acted as distractors but stimuli predicting loss avoidance were easy to ignore. In a subsequent fMRI decoding study we observed the same pattern in the quality of stimuli representations in ventral visual cortex. Stimulus-evoked activity in the dopaminergic midbrain also followed the gain-only model, such that activity in this area predicted the quality of visual representation. The association of reward to a category of stimuli thus appears to have an effect on visual cognition that is economically irrational and independent of the drive to seek information.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
This PDF is available to Subscribers Only