Evaluating the Role of Attention in Decision Making
Attentional processes are critical aspects of the neural, cognitive, and computational mechanisms of decision-making. However, the role of such processes is often not given much focus in decision-making research, especially for studies involving economic decision-making. Here, I present three studies that evaluated the role of attention during decision making. Study 1 evaluated the role of attentional control, such as top-down and bottom-up control, in mediating conflict between internal and external demands on attention to promote optimal task performance in a discrimination decision task. Results from Study 1 provided novel neural insights into the role of attentional control in processing and resolving conflict between internal representations and external stimuli during everyday decision-making. Studies 2 and 3 evaluated the role of selective attention, namely online feature-based selective attention, underlying mechanisms of delay and effort discounting in economic decision-making. Results from these two studies demonstrated the importance of measuring (online and parametrically) and utilizing feature-based selective attention during comparative decision-making tasks to better quantify the cognitive and computational mechanisms underlying behavior and preferences. Taken together, results from all three studies provide important quantitative and qualitative implications for understanding mechanisms of decision-making through the lens of attention.
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