Probing the Failures of Sustained Attention via Reward
Sustained attention failures have been described by competing theories. Underload theories hypothesize failures occur due to boredom from the task, characterized by the frequency of attention lapses across the task. Overload theories hypothesize failures occur to a depletion of cognitive resources, characterized by a steady decline in performance across time. In order to probe the relative contributions of these sources of failures, a reward manipulation was implemented in a between subjects design. Behavioral data reveal that reward improved overall performance - supporting underload theories - but did not completely rescue the decline in performance across. This bring support to the cost-benefit theory of sustained attention, which incorporates both underload and overload theories.