Motivation and visual attention in adolescents and adults

Dodgson, Daniel Barry (2019). Motivation and visual attention in adolescents and adults. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis explores how the motivation to process a visual stimulus influences attentional control. A core aim was to develop and test a motivation-based as opposed to a perception-based explanation for reward association effects on visual selective attention. To do so, in a series of 12 experiments, stimuli were first imbued with a value, reinforced with monetary wins and losses. Then, these same value-associated stimuli were used as distractors in spatial attention paradigms, including flanker and visual search tasks, incentive cues in a simple detection task, or targets in an ensemble perceptual judgment task. Of primary interest were measures of attentional capture by value-laden opposed to neutral stimuli. Taking a developmental approach, in a subset of the experiments value-driven biases in late adolescents compared to adults were also examined while simultaneous electroencephalography was recorded. Collectively, the results from these experiments suggest that the effects of motivational salience are inconsistent with perception-based accounts but can be encompassed in a motivation-based framework that suggests value-associated stimuli compete to alter current goals. This motivation-based model is grounded in the cognitive control literature and posits a competition among potential goals driven by the costs versus benefits of cognitive engagement with stimuli.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology


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