Mixed signals: The effect of conflicting reward-and goal-driven biases on selective attention

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Attentional selection depends on the interaction between exogenous (stimulus-driven), endogenous (goal-driven), and selection history (experience-driven) factors. While endogenous and exogenous biases have been widely investigated, less is known about their interplay with value-driven attention. The present study investigated the interaction between reward-history and goal-driven biases on perceptual sensitivity (d’) and response time (RT) in a modified cueing paradigm presenting two coloured cues, followed by sinusoidal gratings. Participants responded to the orientation of one of these gratings. In Experiment 1, one cue signalled reward availability but was otherwise task irrelevant. In Experiment 2, the same cue signalled reward, and indicated the target’s most likely location at the opposite side of the display. This design introduced a conflict between reward-driven biases attracting attention and goal-driven biases directing it away. Attentional effects were examined comparing trials in which cue and target appeared at the same versus opposite locations. Two interstimulus interval (ISI) levels were used to probe the time course of attentional effects. Experiment 1 showed performance benefits at the location of the reward-signalling cue and costs at the opposite for both ISIs, indicating value-driven capture. Experiment 2 showed performance benefits only for the long ISI when the target was at the opposite to the reward-associated cue. At the short ISI, only performance costs were observed. These results reveal the time course of these biases, indicating that reward-driven effects influence attention early but can be overcome later by goal-driven control. This suggests that reward-driven biases are integrated as attentional priorities, just as exogenous and endogenous factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1297-1310
Number of pages14
JournalAttention, Perception & Psychophysics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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