Navigation Links
Your attention please: 'Rewarding' objects can't be ignored
Date:6/7/2011

The world is a dazzling array of people, objects, sounds, smells and events: far too much for us to fully experience at any moment. So our attention may automatically be snagged by something startling, such as a slamming door, or we may deliberately focus on something that is important to us right then, such as locating our child among the happily screaming hordes on the school playground. We also know that people are hard-wired to seek out and pay attention to things that are rewarding, such as food when we are hungry, or water when we are thirsty.

So what happens when the things that signify a "reward" are actually not important at all? Are they still powerful enough to capture our attention, when so many other things are competing for it?

According a team of neuroscientists at Johns Hopkins, the answer is "yes," especially when those things previously have been associated with something rewarding, such as money. In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team led by Steven Yantis found that test subjects who were completing a visual search task were distracted when items that had previously been associated with small amounts of money occasionally appeared.

The results have implications for understanding how the brain responds to rewarding stimuli, which may contribute to the development of more effective treatments for drug addiction, obesity and ADHD, said Yantis, professor and chair of psychological and brain sciences in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

"We know that not everyone who takes drugs becomes addicted to them, but we also recognize that there is some connection between the euphoria that the drugs cause and how that sensation 'rewires' the brain in ways that make it difficult to suppress the craving to experience that again," he explains. "One aspect of this scenario is how reward-related objects capture attention automatically in the way that a sign advertising happy hour at a bar might snag the attention of a recovering alcoholic driving by. Understanding the psychological and brain mechanisms of that reward-object pairing and why some people are more susceptible to it than others could lead to more effective treatments."

The article is available online here: http://tinyurl.com/6xmwqk4

In the study, people first searched for red or green circles in an array of many differently colored circles displayed on a computer screen. One color (for instance, red) was always followed by a monetary reward (10 cents) and the other (perhaps green) by a smaller reward (1 cent). After doing this for more than an hour, the study subjects then were asked to search for particular shapes (for instance, a circle among diamonds) and color was no longer relevant or rewarded. Still, occasionally, one of the items in the display was red or green. When that happened, the study subjects' responses slowed down.

According to Yantis, this proved that an overwhelming number of people in the study became distracted by the red or green objects, even though the study subjects had been instructed to ignore those items and the items were inconspicuous and had no relevance to the task at hand.

"It was clear to us that those red or green items had become valuable to the study subjects, because they were linked in their minds with a reward," Yantis said.

In addition, the study subjects also completed a questionnaire measuring impulsivity. The team found that people who were more impulsive to begin with were even more prone to distraction by the "high value" red or green objects.

"One measure of good cognitive control is how long a person can hold information in his or her short-term memory, and we found that those people who were less impulsive tended to be more resistant to distraction by those things that had no value in and of themselves but had become associated with a reward," Yantis explained. "We also found that the distraction caused by value-related features persists for weeks after the original learning."

The team is now investigating how value is learned, and how learned value can seize the brain's attention circuits, Yantis said.

"We think that this form of attentional capture may play a role in various clinical syndromes like drug addiction," he said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Lisa DeNike
Lde@jhu.edu
443-287-9960
Johns Hopkins University
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. ATTENTION: Pawty Animals Needed in Nashville, Tennessee
2. Crossroads for Growth Drawing Attention This World Autism Day to Help NJ Families Obtain Autism Treatment
3. Amnesty International Urges Congress to Turn Attention to Needed Reforms on Maternal and Childbirth Care
4. Vitamin D deficiency in pregnant Arab women requires urgent attention
5. Falls and follow-ups: Medical attention following a fall critical to senior health
6. Liberty Health shows how the BP Oil Spill may draw attention to the purity of the company's newly released Nutritional Supplements.
7. Researchers predict human visual attention using computer intelligence for the first time
8. Too Much Screen Time Can Threaten Attention Span
9. Prenatal Pesticide Exposure May Raise Risk of Attention Issues in Kids
10. Attention, couch potatoes! Walking boosts brain connectivity, function
11. Increased attention to womens health research has yielded gains on some important conditions, but progress lags on others
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Your attention please: 'Rewarding' objects can't be ignored
(Date:12/8/2016)... FL (PRWEB) , ... December 08, 2016 , ... Coppin ... business owners and families in and around the Cape Coral area, is embarking on ... Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida. , The Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... Fort Payne, AL (PRWEB) , ... December 08, ... ... enterprise offering insurance and financial consulting services to residential and commercial clients in ... raise awareness and support for Nobis Works. , Since 1977, Nobis Works has ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... ... , ... DrugDev again demonstrated its dedication to reducing the administrative ... adopters completing EU-U.S. Privacy Shield Certification from the U.S. Department of Commerce. , ... the Atlantic with a mechanism to comply with EU data protection requirements when transferring ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... ... December 07, 2016 , ... "Today, MHA and ... comprehensive mental health systems reform legislation in more than fifty years. We applaud ... commitment of our elected officials to improving mental health services and supports in ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... , ... December 07, 2016 , ... ... drug in their bodies, a researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine at ... , The study found that when young children are exposed to secondhand marijuana ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/8/2016)... NEW YORK , Dec. 8, 2016 ... ... such as reducing loss of blood during surgeries, lowering the ... surgeries, and decreasing risks of SSIs. The patient warming systems ... and intravascular warming systems.These benefits in turn reduce the stay ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... Dec. 8, 2016 KEY FINDINGS ... grow in 2017-2023. Various reasons for growth of the ... higher incidences of chronic diseases, high recovery cost of ... services. Medical lifting sling refers to an assistive ... mobility. These slings connect to the lift and hold ...
(Date:12/8/2016)... LONDON , Dec. 8, 2016 ... diagnostics includes products and tests that are used ... grass, weed, peanuts, milk, or drugs etc. in ... developed by the immune system. The report on ... future prospects of the market. The report consists ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: