Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 559–568 | Cite as

Reward supports flexible orienting of attention to category information and influences subsequent memory

  • Jia-Hou Poh
  • Stijn A. A. Massar
  • S. Azrin Jamaluddin
  • Michael W. L. CheeEmail author
Brief Report


Preparatory control of attention facilitates the efficient processing and encoding of an expected stimulus. However, this can occur at the expense of increasing the processing cost of unexpected stimuli. Preparatory control can be influenced by motivational factors, such as the expectation of a reward. Interestingly, expectation of a high reward can increase target processing, as well as reduce the cost associated with reorienting. Using a semantic cueing paradigm, we examined the interaction of reward expectation and cue-validity on semantic judgment performance and subsequent memory. Preparatory attention was assessed with pupillometry. Valid category cueing was associated with better semantic judgment performance and better subsequent memory compared to invalidly cued items. Higher reward also resulted in a larger pre-target pupil diameter, which could be indicative of increased preparatory task engagement or arousal. Critically, higher reward also reduced reorienting cost in both semantic judgment and subsequent memory performance. Our findings suggest that reward expectation can facilitate the effective control of preparatory attention for semantic information, and can support optimal goal-directed behavior based on changing task demands.


Reward Category-cueing Preparatory attention Reorienting Memory Pupillometry 


Author note

This work was supported by a grant awarded to Dr. Michael Chee from the National Medical Research Council, Singapore (NMRC/STaR/0015/2013). Special thanks to Karen Sasmita for assistance with data collection and data visualization, and Nicholas Chee for assistance with data collection.

Supplementary material

13423_2019_1595_MOESM1_ESM.docx (145 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 145 kb)


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Copyright information

© The Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Cognitive NeuroscienceDuke-NUS Medical SchoolSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Center for Cognitive NeuroscienceDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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