Differing Time Courses of Reward-Related Attentional Processing: An EEG Source-Space Analysis

Denise E. L. Lockhofen, Nils Hübner, Fatma Hemdan, Gebhard Sammer, Dion Henare, Anna Schubö, Christoph Mulert
2021 Brain Topography  
AbstractSince our environment typically contains more information than can be processed at any one time due to the limited capacity of our visual system, we are bound to differentiate between relevant and irrelevant information. This process, termed attentional selection, is usually categorized into bottom-up and top-down processes. However, recent research suggests reward might also be an important factor in guiding attention. Monetary reward can bias attentional selection in favor of
more » ... vant targets and reduce the efficiency of visual search when a reward-associated, but task-irrelevant distractor is present. This study is the first to investigate reward-related target and distractor processing in an additional singleton task using neurophysiological measures and source space analysis. Based on previous studies, we hypothesized that source space analysis would find enhanced neural activity in regions of the value-based attention network, such as the visual cortex and the anterior cingulate. Additionally, we went further and explored the time courses of the underlying attentional mechanisms. Our neurophysiological results showed that rewarding distractors led to a stronger attentional capture. In line with this, we found that reward-associated distractors (compared with reward-associated targets) enhanced activation in frontal regions, indicating the involvement of top-down control processes. As hypothesized, source space analysis demonstrated that reward-related targets and reward-related distractors elicited activation in regions of the value-based attention network. However, these activations showed time-dependent differences, indicating that the neural mechanisms underlying reward biasing might be different for task-relevant and task-irrelevant stimuli.
doi:10.1007/s10548-021-00827-3 pmid:33733706 fatcat:hmnionbcqnf2lob4ma4veoeqn4