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Hanna Kadel, Stephan Koenig, Metin Uengoer, Anna Schubö; Go for information, but remember reward: Motivational and informational value affect the deployment of visual attention. Journal of Vision 2017;17(10):1299. doi: 10.1167/17.10.1299.
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Visual selective attention is controlled by stimulus properties in a bottom-up manner, by the observer's current intention via top-down mechanisms, and by an observer's prior experience and learning history. In the present electrophysiological study we examined to which extent a stimulus' motivational value (reward) and its informational value (prediction) affect attention deployment. Value associations were manipulated in a categorization learning task, where participants responded to colors that predicted reward with variable reliability. The impact of acquired reward and predictability associations was assessed in an unrelated visual search task, in which irrelevant additional singleton distractors were presented together with a shape target. Distractor colors were similar as in the learning task, but had neither rewarding nor predictive value here. Event-related potentials and behavioral measures showed that during learning, observers' selective attention was mainly guided by informational value (more attention towards predictive than unpredictive stimuli), but was additionally modulated by reward value (more attention towards high reward than low reward stimuli). In the search task, the interference caused by distractors only depended on their reward associations (more attention to high than low reward distractors), regardless of how predictable the reward was during learning. Our findings show that both motivational and informational value affect selective attention, but do so differently dependent on current task requirements. This suggests that different mechanisms might underlie attentional preferences for motivational and informational value.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2017
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