Psychology ETDs

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Electroencephalography (EEG) is an often-used tool of assessment to measure the electrical activity of populations of neurons at the scalp. Here, we used EEG in conjunction with a computer-based amalgamation of two common behavioral assessments: The Eriksen Flanker Task and the Balloon Analogue Risk Task to assess how varying levels of congruency modulate risky behavior. We recruited 36 participants from the University of New Mexico Department of Psychology research pool (Female = 26; Mean Age = 21.28, SD = 4.54). In this task, participants indicated the direction of the arrow in the center' from a line of five characters '< < < < < or > > > > >' (congruent) and '< < > < < or > > < > >' (incongruent). We presented these stimuli in trials of 10, 30, 50, 70, and 90% incongruency. By selecting the correct direction of the stimuli, participants inflated a virtual balloon by one pump for each selection until the balloon popped or they cashed out on the points earned in each trial. In this study, we aim to show how likely participants are to exhibit risky behavior (pumps) in varying levels of congruency, and to assess brain activity characteristics during this decision-making process. We found no significant relationship between pumps and increasing levels of incongruency (RHO = 0.09, p = 0.58). However, we did find a significant difference (p ≤ 0.01) in theta power between congruent and incongruent cues, and that this difference was significantly correlated with pumps (RHO = 0.34, p = 0.04). Together, these findings suggest while decreasing incongruency is not associated with increased risky behavior across all participants, individual differences in theta band power reflects differing tendencies towards risky behavior.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Annett, Robert

Second Committee Member

Clark, Vincent




Conflict, Risk, EEG

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