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The impact of cognitive load on reward evaluation

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 22:03 authored by Krigolson, OE, Hassall, CD, Jason SatelJason Satel, Klein, RM
The neural systems that afford our ability to evaluate rewards and punishments are impacted by a variety of external factors. Here, we demonstrate that increased cognitive load reduces the functional efficacy of a reward processing system within the human medial-frontal cortex. In our paradigm, two groups of participants used performance feedback to estimate the exact duration of one second while electroencephalographic (EEG) data was recorded. Prior to performing the time estimation task, both groups were instructed to keep their eyes still and avoid blinking in line with well established EEG protocol. However, during performance of the time-estimation task, one of the two groups was provided with trial-to-trial-feedback about their performance on the time-estimation task and their eye movements to induce a higher level of cognitive load relative to participants in the other group who were solely provided with feedback about the accuracy of their temporal estimates. In line with previous work, we found that the higher level of cognitive load reduced the amplitude of the feedback-related negativity, a component of the human event-related brain potential associated with reward evaluation within the medial-frontal cortex. Importantly, our results provide further support that increased cognitive load reduces the functional efficacy of a neural system associated with reward processing.


Publication title

Brain research








School of Psychological Sciences


Elsevier Science Bv

Place of publication

Po Box 211, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1000 Ae

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Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in psychology

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