Unexpected events disrupt visuomotor working memory and increase guessing.
Psychonomic bulletin & review
When an unexpected event, such as a car horn honking, occurs in daily life, it often disrupts our train of thought. In the lab, this effect was recently modeled with a task in which verbal working memory (WM) was disrupted by unexpected auditory events (Wessel et al. in Nature Communications, 7, 11195, 2016). Here we tested whether this effect extends to a different type of WM-namely, visuomotor. We found that unexpected auditory events similarly decremented visuomotor WM. Moreover, this effect persisted for many more trials than had previously been shown for verbal WM, and the effect occurred for two different types of unexpected auditory events. Furthermore, we found that unexpected events decremented WM by decreasing the quantity, but not necessarily the quality, of items stored. These results showed an impact of unexpected events on visuomotor WM that was statistically robust and endured across time. They also showed that the effect was based on an increase in guessing, consistent with a neuroscience-inspired theory that unexpected events "wipe out" WM by stopping the ongoing maintenance of the trace. This new task paradigm is an excellent vehicle for further explorations of distractibility.
View details for DOI 10.3758/s13423-017-1319-3
View details for PubMedID 28577274
Distinct Motivational Effects of Contingent and Noncontingent Rewards.
When rewards are available, people expend more energy, increasing their motivational vigor. In theory, incentives might drive behavior for two distinct reasons: First, they increase expected reward; second, they increase the difference in subjective value between successful and unsuccessful performance, which increases contingency-the degree to which action determines outcome. Previous studies of motivational vigor have never compared these directly. Here, we indexed motivational vigor by measuring the speed of eye movements toward a target after participants heard a cue indicating how outcomes would be determined. Eye movements were faster when the cue indicated that monetary rewards would be contingent on performance than when the cue indicated that rewards would be random. But even when the cue indicated that a reward was guaranteed regardless of speed, movement was still faster than when no reward was available. Motivation by contingent and certain rewards was uncorrelated across individuals, which suggests that there are two separable, independent components of motivation. Contingent motivation generated autonomic arousal, and unlike noncontingent motivation, was effective with penalties as well as rewards.
View details for DOI 10.1177/0956797617693326
View details for PubMedID 28488927
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5510684
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