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Sensory and decisional components of endogenous attention are dissociable

Banerjee, Sanjna and Grover, Shrey and Ganesh, Suhas and Sridharan, Devarajan (2019) Sensory and decisional components of endogenous attention are dissociable. In: JOURNAL OF NEUROPHYSIOLOGY, 122 (4). pp. 1538-1554.

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Official URL: https://dx.doi.org/10.1152/jn.00257.2019


Endogenous cueing of attention enhances sensory processing of the attended stimulus (perceptual sensitivity) and prioritizes information from the attended location for guiding behavioral decisions (spatial choice bias). Here, we test whether sensitivity and bias effects of endogenous spatial attention are under the control of common or distinct mechanisms. Human observers performed a multialternative visuospatial attention task with probabilistic spatial cues. Observers' behavioral choices were analyzed with a recently developed multidimensional signal detection model (the m-ADC model). The model effectively decoupled the effects of spatial cueing on sensitivity from those on spatial bias and revealed striking dissociations between them. Sensitivity was highest at the cued location and not significantly different among uncued locations, suggesting a spotlight-like allocation of sensory resources at the cued location. On the other hand, bias varied systematically with cue validity, suggesting a graded allocation of decisional priority across locations. Cueing-induced modulations of sensitivity and bias were uncorrelated within and across subjects. Bias, but not sensitivity, correlated with key metrics of prioritized decision-making, including reaction times and decision optimality indices. In addition, we developed a novel metric, differential risk curvature, for distinguishing bias effects of attention from those of signal expectation. Differential risk curvature correlated selectively with m-ADC model estimates of bias but not with estimates of sensitivity. Our results reveal dissociable effects of endogenous attention on perceptual sensitivity and choice bias in a multialternative choice task and motivate the search for the distinct neural correlates of each. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Attention is often studied as a unitary phenomenon. Yet, attention can both enhance the perception of important stimuli (sensitivity) and prioritize such stimuli for decision-making (bias). Employing a multialternative spatial attention task with probabilistic cueing, we show that attention affects sensitivity and bias through dissociable mechanisms. Specifically, the effects on sensitivity alone match the notion of an attentional ``spotlight.'' Our behavioral model enables quantifying component processes of attention, and identifying their respective neural correlates.

Item Type: Journal Article
Additional Information: copyright to this article belongs to AMER PHYSIOLOGICAL SOC
Keywords: attention mechanisms; criteria; multialternative decisions; psychophysical models; signal detection theory; top-down attention
Department/Centre: Division of Biological Sciences > Centre for Neuroscience
Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2019 05:08
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2019 05:08
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/63901

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