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Cereb Cortex. 2016 Jan;26(1):1-11. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhu160. Epub 2014 Aug 19.

Cortical Brain Activity Reflecting Attentional Biasing Toward Reward-Predicting Cues Covaries with Economic Decision-Making Performance.

Author information

1
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Centro de Neuroeconomía, Facultad de Economía y Empresa, Universidad Diego Portales, Santiago 8370076, Chile.
2
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University, Durham, NC 27710, USA.
3
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University, Durham, NC 27710, USA Department of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.

Abstract

Adaptive choice behavior depends critically on identifying and learning from outcome-predicting cues. We hypothesized that attention may be preferentially directed toward certain outcome-predicting cues. We studied this possibility by analyzing event-related potential (ERP) responses in humans during a probabilistic decision-making task. Participants viewed pairs of outcome-predicting visual cues and then chose to wager either a small (i.e., loss-minimizing) or large (i.e., gain-maximizing) amount of money. The cues were bilaterally presented, which allowed us to extract the relative neural responses to each cue by using a contralateral-versus-ipsilateral ERP contrast. We found an early lateralized ERP response, whose features matched the attention-shift-related N2pc component and whose amplitude scaled with the learned reward-predicting value of the cues as predicted by an attention-for-reward model. Consistently, we found a double dissociation involving the N2pc. Across participants, gain-maximization positively correlated with the N2pc amplitude to the most reliable gain-predicting cue, suggesting an attentional bias toward such cues. Conversely, loss-minimization was negatively correlated with the N2pc amplitude to the most reliable loss-predicting cue, suggesting an attentional avoidance toward such stimuli. These results indicate that learned stimulus-reward associations can influence rapid attention allocation, and that differences in this process are associated with individual differences in economic decision-making performance.

KEYWORDS:

EEG; ERP; N2pc; learning; reward

PMID:
25139941
PMCID:
PMC4677969
DOI:
10.1093/cercor/bhu160
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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