An evidence accumulation model of motivational and developmental influences over sustained attention

AbstractSustaining focus is difficult, but it is under our control. Previous research has found that people's ability to sustain attention depends on external incentives and changes over the lifespan. However, previous research has made limited progress in characterizing the specific cognitive mechanisms involved in sustained attention. These mechanisms are investigated in the current experiment, which uses drift diffusion modeling to re-analyze a series experiments on sustained attention. In Experiment 1, we found that incentives influence information processing (noise) but not decision strategy (threshold). In Experiment 2, we found that noise and threshold have distinct development trajectories, and that while older adults have noisier accumulation, they are better at sustaining attention. These results help provide mechanistic insight into recent findings in sustained attention.

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