Reward associations magnify memory-based biases on perception.
Doallo S., Patai EZ., Nobre AC.
Long-term spatial contextual memories are a rich source of predictions about the likely locations of relevant objects in the environment and should enable tuning of neural processing of unfolding events to optimize perception and action. Of particular importance is whether and how the reward outcome of past events can impact perception. We combined behavioral measures with recordings of brain activity with high temporal resolution to test whether the previous reward outcome associated with a memory could modulate the impact of memory-based biases on perception, and if so, the level(s) at which visual neural processing is biased by reward-associated memory-guided attention. Data showed that past rewards potentiate the effects of spatial memories upon the discrimination of target objects embedded within complex scenes starting from early perceptual stages. We show that a single reward outcome of learning impacts on how we perceive events in our complex environments.