December 2022
Volume 22, Issue 14
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   December 2022
Persistent impact of rewarded visual features on sustained attention
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Anne Milner
    University of California, Santa Barbara
  • Barry Giesbrecht
    University of California, Santa Barbara
    Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies, UC Santa Barbara
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  Supported by the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies through contract W911NF-19-2-0026 from the U.S. Army Research Office
Journal of Vision December 2022, Vol.22, 4356. doi:
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      Anne Milner, Barry Giesbrecht; Persistent impact of rewarded visual features on sustained attention. Journal of Vision 2022;22(14):4356.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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During visual search tasks, irrelevant visual features previously associated with reward can capture spatial attention, a phenomenon known as value-driven attention capture (Anderson et al., 2011). Here we tested whether visual features previously associated with reward impact performance during a sustained attention task with no required shifts of spatial attention. Participants completed a modified version of the continuous temporal expectancy task (CTET; O’Connell et al., 2009). The CTET is a sustained attention task that requires continuous monitoring of a stimulus sequence for rare task-relevant targets. Participants (N=27) completed a two-phase version of the CTET during which participants viewed a rapid serial visual presentation (RSVP) stream of faces and cars (equiprobable). Ninety percent of the stimuli were presented for 800 ms, but 10% were infrequent targets presented for 1120 ms. When the long duration targets were detected, participants discriminated whether the stimulus was a face or a car. Targets were surrounded by a red or blue colored border and non-targets surrounded by randomly selected colors. One target color resulted in a 5¢ reward, and the other color resulted in no reward. During training the proportion of correct target detections was higher for the rewarded compared to non-rewarded targets (BF>1000). During the test phase, one week later, participants completed the same task with no reward feedback. Participants continued to correctly detect rewarded at a higher rate compared to non-rewarded stimuli (BF>1000). Our results suggest that visual features associated with reward can subsequently continue to affect performance during sustained attention even when the association is no longer reinforced. While the effect of rewarded visual features has been extensively demonstrated in selective attention tasks (Anderson et al., 2011; Anderson & Yantis, 2013), here we show that such reward associations can also improve performance during sustained attention even in the absence of shifts of spatial attention.


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