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Voluntary and involuntary attention vary as a function of impulsivity

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Voluntary and involuntary attention vary as a function of impulsivityAbstractExperiment 1MethodResults and discussionExperiment 2MethodResults and discussionGeneral discussionReferencesBRIEF REPORTVoluntary and involuntary attention vary as a functionof impulsivityAyelet N. Landau & Deena Elwan & Sarah Holtz &William PrinzmetalPublished online: 27 March 2012#Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2012Abstract In the present study we exami ned, first, whethervoluntary and involuntary attention manifest differently inpeople who differ in impulsivity (measured with the BarrattImpulsivity Scale). For Experiment 1, we used the spatialcueing task with informative and noninformative spatialcues to probe voluntary and involuntar y attention, respec-tively. We found that participants with hi gh impulsivityscores exhibi ted larger involuntary attention effects, where-as participants with low impulsivity scores exhibited largervoluntary attention effects. For Experiment 2, we used thecorrelated-flanker task to determine whether the differencesbetween groups in Experiment 1 were due to high-impulsiveparticipants being less sensitive to the display contingenciesor to high-impulsive participants having a greater spread ofspatial attention. Surprisingly, high-impulsive parti cipantsshowed a greater sensitivity to contingencies in the environ-ment (correlated-flanker effect). Our results illustrate onesituation in which involuntary attention associated with highimpulsivity can play a useful role.Keywords Spatial attention.Individual differences.Impulsivity.Voluntary attention.Involuntary attentionTrait impulsivity has been shown to influence a range ofpsychological processes, including decision-making, careerand social success, eating behavior, driving, and psychopa-thology (Dickman, 1993; Evenden, 1999). It has also beenlinked to attention in various tasks, including the stop-signalparadigm (Logan, Schachar, & Tannock, 1997), the atten-tional blink (Li, Chen, Lin, & Yang, 2005), and workingmemory tasks (Cools, Sheridan, Jacobs, & D’Esposito,2007). These studies revealed performance deficits in par-ticipants with high trait impulsivity. In the experimentspresented here, we probed different types of attention usingtwo paradigms and found that both performance benefitsand costs are associated with impulsivity. In addition, in thesecond experiment we tested two accounts that providemechanisms for the differenc es we found between high-and low-impul sive participants on attention tasks.Experiment 1Spatial attention refers to the ability to select and prioritizeparts of the environment for processing while ignoringothers. Voluntary attention is the type of attention that isgoal-directed and determined by the relevant task at hand.Involuntary capture of attention results when stimuli areselected due to saliency rather than to task relevance(Jonides, 1981). In Experiment 1, voluntary and involuntaryattention were investigated using the spatial-cueing paradigmshown in Fig. 1.We varied voluntary and involuntary attention in separateblocks by varying the proportions of trials on which thetarget appeared in the cued locatio n. In the involuntary-atte ntion condition, the target location was random withrespect to the cue location. To investigate voluntary atten-tion, in separate blocks, the cue was made predictive of theA. N. Landau:D. Elwan:W. PrinzmetalUniversity of California,Berkeley, CA, USAS. HoltzHead-Royce School,Oakland, CA, USAA. N. Landau (*)Ernst Strüngmann Institute,Deutschordenstr. 46,60528 Frankfurt, Germanye-mail: [email protected] Bull Rev (2012) 19:405–411DOI 10.3758/s13423-012-0240-ztarget location. The difference between predictive and non-predictive cues indicates the contribution of voluntaryattention.To further separa te voluntary and involuntary attention,we also varied the cue–target interval (also referred to as thestimulus onset asynchrony [SOA]). Involuntary attention isknown to be transient (Posner, Cohen, & Rafal, 1982;Posner, Snyder, & Davidson, 1980), and the cueing effectdisappears as SOA increases. In contrast, voluntary-attention effects are observed for longer SOAs and can besustained (e.g., Wright & Richard, 2000).Both predictive cues (voluntary attention) and nonpredic-tive cues (involuntary attention) have the same general behav-ioral effect: faster RTs for targets in the cued than in theuncued location. However, previous studies using similardesigns have reported behavioral differences between volun-tary and involuntary attention (e.g., Prinzmetal, McCool, &Park, 2005; Prinzmetal, Park, & Garrett, 2005), as well asdifferences in neural activity, measured using fMRI (Estermanet al., 2008) and EEG (Landau, Esterman, Robertson, Bentin,& Prinzmetal, 2007).The goal of Experiment 1 was to determine whetherindividual differences in impulsivity, as measured by theBarratt Impulsivity Scale (BIS-11; Patton, Stanford, & Barratt,1995), would be reflected in measures of voluntary and invol-untary attention. We predicted that high-impulsive individualswould show greater involuntary attention effects than wouldlow-impulsive individuals, whereas low-impulsive individu-als would show greater voluntary attention effects than wouldhigh-impulsive individuals.MethodParticipants The total sample included 48 participants (33female, 15 male), 17–31 years of age. Two recruitmentstrategies were employed: Twenty of the participants wererecruited from the University of California, Berkeley, Re-search Participation Program, and the remaining volunteerswere selected on the basis of a prescreening test (BIS-11)administered to this subject pool, from which we recruitedthose whose BIS scores were one or more standard deviationsaway from the mean, allowing for a wide range of scores.Procedure The sequence of events within a trial is show n inFig. 1. Half of the participants began with the nonpredictive-cue condition, and half with the predictive-cue condition. Inthe nonpredictive-cue condition, the cue location was ran-dom with respect to the target location. This condition con-sisted of four blocks of 80 trials per block. In the predictive-cue condition, the target appeared in the cued location on80 % of the trials, and there were six blocks of 80 trials. Inaddition to manipulating trial probability, we utilized differ-ences in the time courses of voluntary and involuntaryattention to probe the two types of attention. Half of theblocks had a cue–target SOA of 40 ms, while the


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