Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


W.M. Keck Science Department

Second Department


Reader 1

Alison Harris

Reader 2

John Milton

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2014 Iris Lieuw


In our daily lives, we often make decisions that require the use of self-control, weighing trade-offs between various attributes: for example, selecting a food based on its health rather than its taste. Previous research suggests that re-weighting attributes may rely on selective attention, associated with decreased neural oscillations over posterior brain regions in the alpha (8-12 Hz) frequency range. Here, we utilized the high temporal resolution and whole-brain coverage of electroencephalography (EEG) to test this hypothesis in data collected from hungry human subjects exercising dietary self-control. Prior analysis of this data has found time-locked neural activity associated with each food’s perceived taste and health properties from approximately 400 to 650 ms after stimulus onset (Harris et al., 2013). We conducted time-frequency analyses to examine the role of alpha-band oscillations in this attribute weighting. Specifically, we predicted that there would be decreased alpha power in posterior electrodes beginning approximately 400 ms after stimulus onset for the presentation of healthy food relative to unhealthy food, reflecting shifts in selective attention. Consistent with this hypothesis, we found a significant decrease in alpha power for presentations of healthy relative to unhealthy foods. As predicted, this effect was most pronounced at posterior occipital and parietal electrodes and was significant from approximately 450 to 700 ms post-stimulus onset. Additionally, we found significant alpha-band decreases in right temporal electrodes during these times. These results extend previous attention research to multi-attribute choice, suggesting that the re-weighting of attributes can be measured neuro-computationally.