Individuals differ greatly in their sensitivity to rewards and punishments. In the extreme, these differences are implicated in a range of psychiatric disorders from addiction to depression. However, it is unclear how these differences influence the recruitment of attention, working memory, and long-term memory when responding to potential rewards. Here, we used a rewarded memory-guided visual search task and ERPs to examine the influence of individual differences in self-reported reward/punishment sensitivity, as measured by the Behavioral Inhibition System (BIS)/Behavioral Activation System (BAS) scales, on the recruitment of cognitive mechanisms in conditions of potential reward. Select subscales of the BAS, including the fun seeking and reward responsiveness scales, showed unique relationships with context updating to reward cues and working memory maintenance of potentially rewarded stimuli. In contrast, BIS scores showed unique relationships with deployment of attention at different points in the task. These results suggest that sensitivity to rewards (i.e., BAS) and to punishment (i.e., BIS) may play an important role in the recruitment of specific and distinct cognitive mechanisms in conditions of potential rewards.
© 2017 Society for Psychophysiological Research.