Attention selects which aspects of sensory input are brought to awareness. Because attention is a limited resource, which stimuli are attended has important implications for effective goal- directed behavior, survival, and well-being. Attentional selection can proceed in voluntary fashion, according to context-specific goals. At the same time, however, certain kinds of stimuli receive attentional processing involuntarily, overriding goal-directed attention allocation. Such stimuli are said to capture attention. It is well establised that physically salient stimuli capture attention, and that ongoing priorities influence attentiona selection involuntarily through contingent attentional capture. Recently, my colleagues and I have shown that valuable stimuli, previously associated with the delivery of reward, also capture attention involuntarily, independently of salience and ongoing priorities. We have referred to this phenomenon as value-driven attentional capture, and the proposed project will investigate the mechanisms by which learned value influences attentional priority in this way.
Aim 1 will probe the mechanisms of selection in value-driven capture using human eye tracking. Through Aim 2, the neural mechanisms of value-driven capture will be assessed using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and Aim 3 will investigate the role of value-driven capture in drug addiction. The results will provide a better understanding of the ways in which reward learning influences attentional priority, which represents one of the most critical roles that attention plas in promoting survival. Although attention to reward-predicting stimuli will often be adaptive, it can also become maladaptive when attention to rewarding stimuli conflicts with ongoing goals. In this way, the proposed project will also have important implications for clinical syndromes in which both attention and reward have been critically implicated, including drug addiction, obesity, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder;these implications will be explored directly in Aim 3. Finally, the proposed project will provide outstanding cutting-edge training in cognitive neuroscience, neuroimaging methodology, and related technical skills, and will continue to develop my strong background in behavioral psychophysics. This award will provide support to complete my dissertation research and prepare me for the next step in my scientific career.

Public Health Relevance

The proposed project investigates the role of reward learning in involuntary attention allocation. Attending to rewarding stimuli is a critical function of the human brain;several clinical conditions, including drug addiction, obesity, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and attention- deficit/hyperactivity disorder, are characterized by disorders of cognitiv control that are thought to involve disordered reward learning. This project will contribute to the basic-research foundations for clinical research into the causes and treatments of these conditions. The findings of the proposed project will also speak to the mechanisms by which people attend to and are distracted by stimuli in their environment, which has public safety implications for issues such as distraction while driving.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-F02B-M (20))
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Grant, Steven J
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Johns Hopkins University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Anderson, Brian A; Kronemer, Sharif I; Rilee, Jessica J et al. (2016) Reward, attention, and HIV-related risk in HIV+ individuals. Neurobiol Dis 92:157-65
Anderson, Brian A; Kuwabara, Hiroto; Wong, Dean F et al. (2016) The Role of Dopamine in Value-Based Attentional Orienting. Curr Biol 26:550-5
Sali, Anthony W; Anderson, Brian A; Yantis, Steven (2015) Learned states of preparatory attentional control. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 41:1790-805
Laurent, Patryk A; Hall, Michelle G; Anderson, Brian A et al. (2015) Valuable Orientations Capture Attention. Vis cogn 23:133-146
Anderson, Brian A (2015) Value-Driven Attentional Capture is Modulated by Spatial Context. Vis cogn 23:67-81
Anderson, Brian A (2015) Value-driven attentional priority is context specific. Psychon Bull Rev 22:750-6
Moher, Jeff; Anderson, Brian A; Song, Joo-Hyun (2015) Dissociable effects of salience on attention and goal-directed action. Curr Biol 25:2040-6
Anderson, Brian A; Leal, Stephanie L; Hall, Michelle G et al. (2014) The attribution of value-based attentional priority in individuals with depressive symptoms. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci 14:1221-7
Anderson, Brian A (2014) On the precision of goal-directed attentional selection. J Exp Psychol Hum Percept Perform 40:1755-62
Anderson, Brian A; Leal, Stephanie L; Hall, Michelle G et al. (2014) The Attribution of Value-Based Attentional Priority in Individuals with Depressive Symptoms. Vis cogn 22:1014-1017

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