Poster F124, Tuesday, March 27, 8:00-10:00 am, Exhibit Hall C
Effects of directed attention on stimulus attribute weighting: An ERP study
Alison Harris1, Aleena Young1; 1Claremont McKenna College
There is growing consensus that, in order to make choices, decision-makers use attention to differentially weight choice-relevant attributes based on current goals. However, despite extensive research on the time course of attention and valuation, little work to date has directly examined the temporal dynamics of brain activity when attention is intentionally directed to different stimulus attributes. Here we measured event-related potentials (ERP) while hungry participants made dietary choices under three different attentional cueing conditions: responding naturally, focusing on taste, or focusing on health. All three conditions were presented in randomly interleaved blocks within a single session. Regardless of the attentional cue, participants were explicitly instructed to respond freely based on their preferences. Behaviorally, participants demonstrated significant shifts in attribute weighting consistent with the attentional cue. Likewise, ERP signals typically associated with decision value 500-650 ms after stimulus onset showed a significant interaction of decision value and attentional cueing, with increased neural responses in the Health cueing condition relative to Taste. Rather than reflecting increased effortful processing in the Health cue condition, the magnitude of this neural interaction effect was negatively correlated with individual differences in speed of processing health versus taste attributes, such that larger enhancements of the ERP signal were observed in individuals who were faster at rating healthiness versus taste in a separate task. Together, these data support the role of attention in attribute weighting, while further suggesting that ERP correlates of valuation during directed attention reflect ease of processing rather than effortful cognitive regulation.
Topic Area: THINKING: Decision making