Mechanisms of habitual approach: Failure to suppress irrelevant responses evoked by previously reward-associated stimuli. Academic Article uri icon


  • Reward learning has a powerful influence on the attention system, causing previously reward-associated stimuli to automatically capture attention. Difficulty ignoring stimuli associated with drug reward has been linked to addiction relapse, and the attention system of drug-dependent patients seems especially influenced by reward history. This and other evidence suggests that value-driven attention has consequences for behavior and decision-making, facilitating a bias to approach and consume the previously reward-associated stimulus even when doing so runs counter to current goals and priorities. Yet, a mechanism linking value-driven attention to behavioral responding and a general approach bias is lacking. Here we show that previously reward-associated stimuli escape inhibitory processing in a go/no-go task. Control experiments confirmed that this value-dependent failure of goal-directed inhibition could not be explained by search history or residual motivation, but depended specifically on the learned association between particular stimuli and reward outcome. When a previously high-value stimulus is encountered, the response codes generated by that stimulus are automatically afforded high priority, bypassing goal-directed cognitive processes involved in suppressing task-irrelevant behavior. (PsycINFO Database Record

published proceedings

  • J Exp Psychol Gen

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Anderson, B. A., Folk, C. L., Garrison, R., & Rogers, L.

citation count

  • 34

complete list of authors

  • Anderson, Brian A||Folk, Charles L||Garrison, Rebecca||Rogers, Leeland

publication date

  • June 2016