The influence of reward associations on conflict processing in the Stroop task.
Performance in a behavioral task can be facilitated by associating stimulus properties with reward. In contrast, conflicting information is known to impede task performance. Here we investigated how reward associations influence the within-trial processing of conflicting information using a color-naming Stroop task in which a subset of ink colors (task-relevant dimension) was associated with monetary incentives. We found that color-naming performance was enhanced on trials with potential-reward versus those without. Moreover, in potential-reward trials, typical conflict-induced performance decrements were attenuated if the incongruent word (task-irrelevant dimension) was unrelated to reward. In contrast, incongruent words that were semantically related to reward-predicting ink colors interfered with performance in potential-reward trials and even more so in no-reward trials, despite the semantic meaning being entirely task-irrelevant. These observations imply that the prospect of reward enhances the processing of task-relevant stimulus information, whereas incongruent reward-related information in a task-irrelevant dimension can impede task performance.
Krebs, RM; Boehler, CN; Woldorff, MG
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