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Andy Kim, Brian Anderson; Value-Driven Attentional Capture Under Threat of Shock. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1252. doi: 10.1167/18.10.1252.
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Both reward learning and fear conditioning have been shown to influence attention to predictive cues. The extent to which these attention effects rely on common (valence-independent) or shared (valence-dependent) mechanisms is unclear. We hypothesized that, to the degree that value and threat systems influence attention via a shared mechanism, the processing of current threat should influence the attention capturing quality of reward cues. In the present study, we induced fear and anxiety through the threat of electric shock and measured resulting changes in attentional capture by reward cues. Participants first completed a training phase in which they were rewarded for fixating color-defined targets. Then, participants completed an oculomotor capture task (test phase) in which they were required to fixate a shape singleton target, while ignoring occasional distractors rendered in the high-value color from training. In an alternating block design, participants completed the test phase under the threat of electric shock and under no threat of shock. Using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), participants showed a significant increase in state anxiety after completion of the task, suggesting that the shock manipulation was effective in increasing anxiety. Significant oculomotor capture by the valuable distractor was observed in both threat and no-threat blocks of the task. However, no difference in capture between the two block-types was observed, and a Bayes factor analysis yielded strong support for the null hypothesis. Furthermore, there were no correlations between the difference in capture between blocks and a variety of anxiety measures assessed via questionnaires. The overall magnitude of oculomotor capture by the high-value distractor was similar to that observed in studies without a threat-of-shock manipulation. Our findings are consistent with the idea that brain systems for value and threat influence attention independently.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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