Poster D28, Monday, March 27, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Contributions of physiological arousal levels to performance under pressure: an fMRI study.
Noriya Watanabe1,2,3,4, Mauricio R. Delgado1; 1Rutgers University, 2Japan Society for Promotion of Science, 3Nagoya University, 4National Institute of Information and Communications Technology
Success or failure of a motivated behavior can be determined by various factors. One such factor is the ability to keep calm and carry on while under pressure to perform. We investigated how an individual’s level of arousal, characterized by pupil dilation, influences the probability of being successful during a simple motor-perception task. Specifically, we measured pupil dilation during a 5.5 second anticipatory phase prior to motor execution of a stop-watch task - a period where participants (N=22) were presented with an incentive associated with successful in the trial ($0.50-$40.00). Pressing the button within the designated time-window resulted in a successful outcome (M=39.9%). We separated pupil dynamics for trials resulting in success or failure in performance and regressed each one separately by incentive size during the 5.5 second period, showing that failure trials represented the incentive size later on during the anticipatory period - an effect not seen in successful trials. Using fMRI, we also observed that presentation of the incentive value of a trial recruited activation in the caudate nucleus, which was enhanced for trials that resulted in failure and suppressed for trials resulting in success. Interestingly, using pupil amplitude as a regressor in the fMRI analysis independent from incentive yielded activity in the amygdala, where a greater response to failure compared to success trials was observed. Taken together, the results suggest that arousal levels prior to execution of a behavior can modulate neural activity in the caudate and amygdala, contributing to one’s ability to successfully perform under pressure.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Emotion-cognition interactions