Persistence of Value-Driven Attentional Capture
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Stimuli that have previously been associated with the delivery of reward involuntarily capture attention when presented as unrewarded and task-irrelevant distractors in a subsequent visual search task. It is unknown how long such effects of reward learning on attention persist. One possibility is that value-driven attentional biases are plastic and constantly evolve to reflect only recent reward history. According to such a mechanism of attentional control, only consistently reinforced patterns of attention allocation persist for extended periods of time. Another possibility is that reward learning creates enduring changes in attentional priority that can persist indefinitely without further learning. Here we provide evidence for an enduring effect of reward learning on attentional priority: stimuli previously associated with reward in a training phase capture attention when presented as irrelevant distractors over half a year later, without the need for further reward learning.
author list (cited authors)
Anderson, B. A., & Yantis, S.