Visual attention modulates the integration of goal-relevant evidence and not value

Pradyumna Sepulveda, Marius Usher, Ned Davies, Amy A. Benson, Pietro Ortoleva, Benedetto De Martino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations

Abstract

When choosing between options, such as food items presented in plain view, people tend to choose the option they spend longer looking at. The prevailing interpretation is that visual attention increases value. However, in previous studies, ‘value’ was coupled to a behavioural goal, since subjects had to choose the item they preferred. This makes it impossible to discern if visual attention has an effect on value, or, instead, if attention modulates the information most relevant for the goal of the decision-maker. Here, we present the results of two independent studies—a perceptual and a value-based task—that allow us to decouple value from goal-relevant information using specific task-framing. Combining psychophysics with computational modelling, we show that, contrary to the current interpretation, attention does not boost value, but instead it modulates goal-relevant information. This work provides a novel and more general mechanism by which attention interacts with choice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere60705
Pages (from-to)1-58
Number of pages58
JournaleLife
Volume9
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience

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