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Poster A105

The influence of incentives on performance generalizes across cognitive control tasks

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Ziwei Cheng1 (, Xiamin Leng1, Amitai Shenhav1; 1Brown University

To understand how people vary in their range of cognitive control engagement, researchers often measure differences between performance on trials that are more versus less control-demanding (e.g., congruency effects). However, recent work shows that congruency effects for a given participant are poorly correlated across tasks, calling into question the utility of these tasks for indexing variability in control engagement. We sought to test whether these validity concerns may center on congruency effects (which also index stimulus-driven effects) rather than the tasks themselves. We predicted that the motivational impact of incentives on performance (which indexes top-down control allocation) would better generalize across tasks. We had 80 participants complete two tasks: a color-word Stroop task and a random dot motion variant of a Simon task. Both tasks varied response congruency (incongruent vs. congruent), the reward per correct response, and the penalty per error ($0.01 or $0.10). Consistent with past work, responses in both tasks were slower and less accurate for incongruent trials; faster for larger rewards; and slower and more accurate for larger penalties (ps < .001). Controlling for overall performance, congruency effects were weakly correlated across tasks (accuracy: robust regression B=0.20, p=.03, RT: p =.84). Incentive effects, however, demonstrated stronger cross-task correlations, especially in the case of reward-related speeding (B = 0.39, p=.001) and penalty-related slowing (B=0.27, p=.004). Together, the generalized incentive effects suggest that motivational factors hold promise as a more stable index of individual differences in control engagement across contexts.

Topic Area: EXECUTIVE PROCESSES: Monitoring & inhibitory control


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April 13–16  |  2024