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Transient and sustained incentive effects on electrophysiological indices of cognitive control in younger and older adults

  • Ryan S. Williams
  • Farrah Kudus
  • Benjamin J. Dyson
  • Julia Spaniol
Article

Abstract

Preparing for upcoming events, separating task-relevant from task-irrelevant information and efficiently responding to stimuli all require cognitive control. The adaptive recruitment of cognitive control depends on activity in the dopaminergic reward system as well as the frontoparietal control network. In healthy aging, dopaminergic neuromodulation is reduced, resulting in altered incentive-based recruitment of control mechanisms. In the present study, younger adults (18–28 years) and healthy older adults (66–89 years) completed an incentivized flanker task that included gain, loss, and neutral trials. Event-related potentials (ERPs) were recorded at the time of incentive cue and target presentation. We examined the contingent negative variation (CNV), implicated in stimulus anticipation and response preparation, as well as the P3, which is involved in the evaluation of visual stimuli. Both younger and older adults showed transient incentive-based modulation of CNV. Critically, cue-locked and target-locked P3s were influenced by transient and sustained effects of incentives in younger adults, while such modulation was limited to a sustained effect of gain incentives on cue-P3 in older adults. Overall, these findings are in line with an age-related reduction in the flexible recruitment of preparatory and target-related cognitive control processes in the presence of motivational incentives.

Keywords

Aging Flanker task Event-related potentials CNV P3 Reward 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Carson Pun for technical support during data collection and data analysis. We also thank Laura Bianchi and Ryan Marinacci for their assistance with data collection. This research was supported by a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (DG# 358797 to J.S.), by the Canada Research Chair program (J.S.), and by an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation (J.S.)

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© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ryan S. Williams
    • 1
    • 2
  • Farrah Kudus
    • 1
  • Benjamin J. Dyson
    • 1
    • 3
  • Julia Spaniol
    • 1
  1. 1.Ryerson UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.University of SussexFalmerUK

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