Logo Logo
Help
Contact
Switch language to German
Reward-based distractor interference: associative learning and interference stage
Reward-based distractor interference: associative learning and interference stage
This thesis consists of five main chapters including three independent studies, focusing on reward-based distractor interference and reward-association. In particular, the thesis addresses at which attentional processing stages the reward-based distractor interference takes place, as well as whether and how the reward association is learned on different levels. In the first chapter, I introduced a general background of attention, associative learning, and relations between reward associative learning and attention. In the end, I highlighted the open issues that this thesis aimed to address. Chapter II (Study 1) aimed to answer the question at which processing stage the reward-based distractor interferes with the ongoing task. The study adopted the visual additional singleton search task but extended it to visual-tactile search. A classical finding of the reward-based distractor interference is that a reward-associated color feature (red or green), which appears as a task-irrelevant distractor, albeit it is not salient, captures attention and impedes task-relevant response (Anderson et al., 2011a). However, it is unclear at which attentional processing stage the reward-driven capture effects occur. To identify the distractor interference at the pre-attentional searching stage or post/focal- attentional decision-making stage, three experiments were conducted. Instead of a circular search display used in a standard attentional capture paradigm, this study used a horizontal search display to maximize potential attentional capture and disengagement. The results revealed that the reward-based distractor interference was only observed when the target and reward-based distractor were on the same side, indicating the interference likely occurred at the post/focal- attentional decision-making stage. To confirm this, Experiments 2 and 3 adopted the crossmodal search paradigm, in which the search stage and post-selective identification stage took place in different modalities. Such design enabled us to distinguish whether the interference effect occurs at the searching stage or the post/focal-attentional decision-making stage. The results further corroborated that the reward-driven capture effects occur at the post/focal-attention stage. Chapter III (Study 2) focused on the question related to the level of reward associative learning. Most previous studies on reward-based attentional capture implicitly used feature-based reward association, particularly on the feature level, e.g., color-reward association. This leaves the question open regarding whether the associative reward could be established at the level of response mapping or task-set mapping. Two experiments were designed to address this question. In Experiment 1, high/low rewards were associated with both the two colors (pink/green) and the left/right response in the training phase, and the reward-associated color became one of the task-irrelevant distractors in the test phase. We failed to find any evidence on the reward-response association. However, the results showed the distractor with previously reward-associated features facilitated search, indicating a better distractor handling in the test phase. In Experiment 2, the reward was associated with task-sets (present/absent) in the training phase and the task-sets kept the same in the test phase, while the search task was changed. The results suggested that reward-associated learning facilitated distractor handling and task-set learning. Chapter IV (Study 3) tackled the open research question - whether reward associative learning could take place at the multi-conjunction level. The question is important, given that previous studies on reward-based attentional capture only investigated associative learning of a single feature. As reward association in daily life is usually complex, Study 3 aims to explore whether reward learning can be established through reward assignments with conjunction features (color & shape) and whether the interference of distractors with previously reward-associated features can be observed in a similar way as previous studies shown on single-feature-based reward-driven capture effects. Reward learning was found locally trial-by-trial throughout the whole learning process, however, it was hard to establish a reliable conjunction reward association. Furthermore, there was no reward-based distractor interference in the test phase. The findings suggest that conjunction reward-association is difficult, though a short-lived trial-to-trial conjunction reward learning can be established. The final Chapter V discussed the findings of these three studies and their inter-relations. And I summarized how these findings could contribute to the debate of reward-based distractor interference. In summary, this thesis helps to improve our knowledge about reward-based distractor interference, particularly on the identification of the processing stage of distractor interference and what can be associated with reward in reward associative learning.
reward-driven capture effect, attentional capture, crossmodal search, pre-attention, focal-attention, reward mapping, feature-reward-association, task-set reward-association, conjunction reward-association.
Li, Bing
2021
English
Universitätsbibliothek der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Li, Bing (2021): Reward-based distractor interference: associative learning and interference stage. Dissertation, LMU München: Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences (GSN)
[img]
Preview
PDF
Li_Bing.pdf

2MB

Abstract

This thesis consists of five main chapters including three independent studies, focusing on reward-based distractor interference and reward-association. In particular, the thesis addresses at which attentional processing stages the reward-based distractor interference takes place, as well as whether and how the reward association is learned on different levels. In the first chapter, I introduced a general background of attention, associative learning, and relations between reward associative learning and attention. In the end, I highlighted the open issues that this thesis aimed to address. Chapter II (Study 1) aimed to answer the question at which processing stage the reward-based distractor interferes with the ongoing task. The study adopted the visual additional singleton search task but extended it to visual-tactile search. A classical finding of the reward-based distractor interference is that a reward-associated color feature (red or green), which appears as a task-irrelevant distractor, albeit it is not salient, captures attention and impedes task-relevant response (Anderson et al., 2011a). However, it is unclear at which attentional processing stage the reward-driven capture effects occur. To identify the distractor interference at the pre-attentional searching stage or post/focal- attentional decision-making stage, three experiments were conducted. Instead of a circular search display used in a standard attentional capture paradigm, this study used a horizontal search display to maximize potential attentional capture and disengagement. The results revealed that the reward-based distractor interference was only observed when the target and reward-based distractor were on the same side, indicating the interference likely occurred at the post/focal- attentional decision-making stage. To confirm this, Experiments 2 and 3 adopted the crossmodal search paradigm, in which the search stage and post-selective identification stage took place in different modalities. Such design enabled us to distinguish whether the interference effect occurs at the searching stage or the post/focal-attentional decision-making stage. The results further corroborated that the reward-driven capture effects occur at the post/focal-attention stage. Chapter III (Study 2) focused on the question related to the level of reward associative learning. Most previous studies on reward-based attentional capture implicitly used feature-based reward association, particularly on the feature level, e.g., color-reward association. This leaves the question open regarding whether the associative reward could be established at the level of response mapping or task-set mapping. Two experiments were designed to address this question. In Experiment 1, high/low rewards were associated with both the two colors (pink/green) and the left/right response in the training phase, and the reward-associated color became one of the task-irrelevant distractors in the test phase. We failed to find any evidence on the reward-response association. However, the results showed the distractor with previously reward-associated features facilitated search, indicating a better distractor handling in the test phase. In Experiment 2, the reward was associated with task-sets (present/absent) in the training phase and the task-sets kept the same in the test phase, while the search task was changed. The results suggested that reward-associated learning facilitated distractor handling and task-set learning. Chapter IV (Study 3) tackled the open research question - whether reward associative learning could take place at the multi-conjunction level. The question is important, given that previous studies on reward-based attentional capture only investigated associative learning of a single feature. As reward association in daily life is usually complex, Study 3 aims to explore whether reward learning can be established through reward assignments with conjunction features (color & shape) and whether the interference of distractors with previously reward-associated features can be observed in a similar way as previous studies shown on single-feature-based reward-driven capture effects. Reward learning was found locally trial-by-trial throughout the whole learning process, however, it was hard to establish a reliable conjunction reward association. Furthermore, there was no reward-based distractor interference in the test phase. The findings suggest that conjunction reward-association is difficult, though a short-lived trial-to-trial conjunction reward learning can be established. The final Chapter V discussed the findings of these three studies and their inter-relations. And I summarized how these findings could contribute to the debate of reward-based distractor interference. In summary, this thesis helps to improve our knowledge about reward-based distractor interference, particularly on the identification of the processing stage of distractor interference and what can be associated with reward in reward associative learning.