Reward-driven modulation of adaptive control: How prospective monetary gains interact with unpredictable control demands
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Shifting attention is an effortful control process and incurs a cost on the cognitive system. Previous research suggests that rewards, such as monetary gains, will selectively enhance the ability to shift attention when this demand for control is explicitly cued. Here, we hypothesized that prospective monetary gains will selectively enhance the ability to shift attention even when control demand is unpredictable and not cued beforehand in a modality shift paradigm. In two experiments we found that target detection was indeed facilitated by reward signals when an unpredictable shift of attention was required. In these crossmodal trials the target stimulus was preceded by an unpredictive stimulus directing attention to the opposite modality (i.e., visual–auditory or auditory–visual). Importantly, there was no reward effect in ipsimodal trials (i.e., visual–visual or auditory–auditory). Furthermore, the absence of the latter effect could not be explained in terms of physical limits in speed of responding. Potential motivation of monetary rewards thus selectively translates into motivational intensity when control (i.e., switching) is demanded in unpredictable ways.
KeywordsMotivation Adaptive control Monetary reward Resource conservation Modality
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