Motivational salience guides attention to valuable and threatening stimuli: Evidence from behaviour and fMRI Institutional Repository Document uri icon


  • Rewarding and aversive outcomes have opposing effects on behaviour, facilitating approach and avoidance, although we need to accurately anticipate each type of outcome in order to behave effectively. Attention is biased toward stimuli that have been learned to predict either type of outcome, and it remains an open question whether such orienting is driven by separate systems for value- and threat-based orienting or whether there exists a common underlying mechanism of attentional control driven by motivational salience. Here we provide a direct comparison of the neural correlates of value- and threat-based attentional capture following associative learning. Across multiple measures of behaviour and brain activation, our findings overwhelmingly support a motivational salience account of the control of attention. We conclude that there exists a core mechanism of experience-dependent attentional control driven by motivational salience, and that prior characterisations of attention as being value-driven or supporting threat monitoring need to be revisited.

altmetric score

  • 0.25

author list (cited authors)

  • Kim, H., Nanavaty, N., Ahmed, H., Mathur, V., & Anderson, B. A.

citation count

  • 1

complete list of authors

  • Kim, Haena||Nanavaty, Namrata||Ahmed, Humza||Mathur, Vani||Anderson, Brian A

Book Title

  • PsyArXiv

publication date

  • July 2021