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Brian Anderson

Areas of Speciality
  • Cognition & Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Affective Science
  • (979) 458-0168
  • PSYC 208
Professional Links
Office Hours, Spring 2024
By appointment
Accepting Students for 2024-2025?

Research Interests

My research investigates the mechanisms by which reward learning changes how we direct our attention in the future. To this end, I have pioneered an approach in which simple, arbitrary stimuli are paired with reward in a training procedure and then appear as task-irrelevant distractors during performance of a subsequent task. I examine how these previously reward-associated stimuli are processed in both healthy participants and in individuals who struggle with addiction and other psychopathologies, using both human behavior and functional neuroimaging. I am also interested in how punishment learning influences subsequent attention, and how we can employ goal-directed attentional control in order to minimize distraction.

The findings from my research not only inform our understanding of basic mechanisms of attentional control, but also have clearly identifiable clinical implications. For patients who struggle with addiction, ignoring stimuli associated with their drug of abuse is very difficult to do and this difficulty contributes to relapse. Attention can be persistently drawn to drug-related stimuli, even when the patient has the goal of maintaining abstinence. My research demonstrates that normal, healthy individuals can develop strikingly similar attentional biases as the result of simple associative learning between stimuli and non-drug reward, suggesting that addiction-related attentional biases may be reflective of a broader and more basic cognitive process.

Recent Publications

Gregoire, L., & Anderson, B. A. (in press). Instructional learning of threat-related attentional capture. Emotion.

Lee, D. S., & Anderson, B. A. (in press). Selection history contributes to suboptimal attention strategies. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review.

Liao, M.-R., Grindell, J. D., & Anderson, B. A. (in press). A comparison of mental imagery and perceptual cueing across domains of attention. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics.

Clement, A., Gregoire, L., & Anderson, B. A. (in press). Generalization of value-based attentional priority is category-specific. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Kim, A. J.*, Lee, D. S.*, Grindell, J. D., & Anderson, B. A. (in press). Selection history and the strategic control of attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. *denotes co-first-authorship

Anderson, B. A., & Lee, D. S. (2023). Visual search as effortful work. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 152, 1580-1597.

Clement, A., & Anderson, B. A. (2023). Statistical learning facilitates the strategic use of attentional control.  Cognition, 239, 105536.

Liao, M.-R., Kim, A. J., & Anderson, B. A. (2023). Neural correlates of value-driven spatial orienting. Psychophysiology, 60, e14321.

Liao, M.-R., Dillard, M. H., Hour, J. L., Barnett, L. A., Whitten, J. S., Valles, A. C., Anderson, B. A.*, & Yorzinski, J. L.* (2023). Reward history modulates visual attention in an avian model. Animal Cognition, 26, 1685-1695. *denotes co-senior-authorship (equal-contribution)

Kim, H., Ogden, A., & Anderson, B. A. (2023). Statistical learning of distractor shape modulates attentional capture. Vision Research, 202, 108155.

Kim, H., & Anderson, B. A. (2023). Primary rewards and aversive outcomes have comparable effects on attentional bias. Behavioral Neuroscience, 137, 89-94.

Kim, H., & Anderson, B. A. (2023). On the relationship between value- and threat-driven attentional capture and approach-avoidance biases. Brain Sciences, 13(2), 158.

Ogden, A., Kim, H., & Anderson, B. A. (2023). Combined influence of valence and statistical learning on the control of attention II: Evidence from within-domain additivity. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 85, 277-283.

Yan, N., Grindell, J. D., & Anderson, B. A. (2023). Encoding history enhances working memory encoding: Evidence from attribute amnesia. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 49, 589-599.

Kim, N.*, Gregoire, L.*, Razavi, M., Yan, N., Ahn, C. R., & Anderson, B. A. (2023). Virtual accident curbs risk habituation in construction workers by restoring sensory responses to warning signals. iScience, 26,105827. *denotes co-first-authorship

Kim, N., Yan, N., Gregoire, L., Anderson, B. A., & Ahn, C. R. (2023). Road construction workers’ boredom proneness, habituation to warning alarms, and accident proneness: A virtual reality experiment. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 149, 04022175.

Chen, Y., Chen, S., Zhang, X., Zhang, S., Jia, K., Anderson, B. A., & Gong, M. (2023). Reward history modulates attention based on feature relationship. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 152, 1937-1950.

Kim, A. J., & Anderson, B. A. (2022). Systemic effects of selection history on learned ignoring. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 29, 1347-1354.

Gregoire, L., Britton, M. K., & Anderson, B. A. (2022). Motivated suppression of value- and threat-modulated attentional capture. Emotion, 22, 780-794.

Gregoire, L., Mrkonja, L., & Anderson, B. A. (2022). Cross-modal generalization of value-based attentional priority. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 84, 2423-2431.

Lee, D. S., Kim, A. J., & Anderson, B. A. (2022). The influence of reward history on goal-directed visual search. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 84, 325-331.

Anderson, B. A., Liao, M.-R., & Gregoire, L. (2022). Pavlovian learning in the selection history-dependent control of overt spatial attention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 48, 783-789.

Anderson, B. A., & Mrkonja, L. (2022). This is a test: Oculomotor capture when the experiment keeps score. Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, 84, 2115-2126.

Kim, H., Nanavaty, N., Ahmed, H., Mathur, V. A., & Anderson, B. A. (2021). Motivational salience guides attention to valuable and threatening stimuli: Evidence from behavior and fMRI. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 33, 2440-2460.

Kim, H., & Anderson, B. A. (2021). Combined influence of valence and statistical learning on the control of attention: Evidence for independent sources of bias. Cognition, 208, 104554.

Kim, H., & Anderson, B. A. (2021). How does the attention system learn from aversive outcomes? Emotion, 21, 898-903.

Kim, A. J., Gregoire, L., & Anderson, B. A. (2021). Value-biased competition in the auditory system of the brain. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 34, 180-191.

Kim, A. J., Lee, D. S., & Anderson, B. A. (2021). The influence of threat on the efficiency of goal-directed attentional control. Psychological Research, 85, 980-986.

Kim, A. J., Lee, D. S., & Anderson, B. A. (2021). Previously reward-associated sounds interfere with goal-directed auditory processing. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 74, 1257-1263.

Kim, A. J., & Anderson, B. A. (2021). How does threat modulate the motivational effects of reward on attention? Experimental Psychology, 68, 165-172.

Kim, A. J., Alambeigi, H., Goddard, T., McDonald, A. D., & Anderson, B. A. (2021). Bicyclist-evoked arousal and greater attention to bicyclists independently promote safer driving. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, 6:66, 1-13.

Britton, M. K., & Anderson, B. A. (2021). Attentional avoidance of threatening stimuli. Psychological Research, 85, 82-90.

Gregoire, L., Kim, H., & Anderson, B. A. (2021). Punishment-modulated attentional capture is context specific. Motivation Science, 7, 165-175.

Gregoire, L., Kim, A. J., & Anderson, B. A. (2021). Semantic generalization of punishment-related attentional priority. Visual Cognition, 29, 310-317.

Anderson, B. A., & Mrkonja, L. (2021). Oculomotor feedback rapidly reduces overt attentional capture. Cognition, 217, 104917.

Anderson, B. A. (2021). Using aversive conditioning with near-real-time feedback to shape eye movements during naturalistic viewing. Behavior Research Methods, 53, 993-1002.

Mikhael, S., Watson, P., Anderson, B. A., & Le Pelley, M. E. (2021). You do it to yourself: Attentional capture by threat-signaling stimuli persists even when entirely counterproductive. Emotion, 21, 1691-1698.

Kim, N., Anderson, B. A., & Ahn, C. R. (2021). Reducing risk habituation to struck-by hazards in a road construction environment using virtual reality behavioral intervention. Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, 147, 04021157.

Anderson, B. A. (2021). An adaptive view of attentional control. American Psychologist, 76, 1410-1422.

Anderson, B. A., Kim, H., Kim, A. J., Liao, M.-R., Mrkonja, L., Clement, A., & Gregoire, L. (2021). The past, present, and future of selection history. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 130, 326-350.

Anderson, B. A. (2021). Relating value-driven attention to psychopathology. Current Opinion in Psychology, 39, 48-54.

Anderson, B. A. (2021). Time to stop calling it attentional “capture” and embrace a mechanistic understanding of attentional priority. Visual Cognition, 29, 537-540.

Affiliated Research Cluster

Affective Science. Reward learning, punishment learning, and attention.