Do rewards enhance learning? The effect of a reward prospect on information processing: An EEG study

Sanne H.G. van der Ven, Sven A.C. van Touw, Anne van Hoogmoed, Eva Janssen, P.P.M. Leseman

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractAcademic

Abstract

Introduction. Promised rewards and punishments are often used to stimulate learning behaviour. This prospect may change the emotional state and thus processing of learning materials. It was tested whether a monetary reward or punishment affected information processing and recall of learned materials. Method. Two EEG studies were performed, with the N400 paradigm: sentences with a logical or illogical final word (e.g., the tree is full of apples/coffee). The difference in brain activity between these conditions was determined. Study 1: 39 female participants completed the N400 task, then a recall test of the sentence-final words. Participants were told that financial compensation increased with each correct answer (reward condition, n=19), or that compensation was fixed (control condition, n=20).Study 2: 56 female participants
completed the N400 task, then a recall test of whether the sentences were logical. Participants were told that financial compensation increased with each correct answer (reward condition; n=19), decreased with each incorrect answer
(punishment condition; n=19); or that compensation was fixed (control condition; n=18). Results. Study 1. In the reward condition the N400 effect was more spread over (left) frontal areas; recall was better than in the control condition.Study 2. No difference in brain activity was found between control and reward condition; in the punishment condition the N400 effect was more spread over (left) parietal and central areas. Recall performance was best in the control condition. Discussion. Results of the two studies seem contradictory: a reward prospect alters semantic processing, but its effects on learning are less clear.
Original languageEnglish
Pages697
Publication statusPublished - 1-Sep-2017
EventEARLI 2017 - Tampere, Finland
Duration: 29-Aug-20172-Sep-2017
https://www.earli.org/earli-2017

Conference

ConferenceEARLI 2017
CountryFinland
CityTampere
Period29/08/201702/09/2017
Internet address

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