Poster C27, Sunday, March 26, 5:00 – 7:00 pm, Pacific Concourse
Enhancing social attention mechanisms via noninvasive brain stimulation
Eva Wiese1, Eric Joshua Blumberg1, Aziz Abubshait1, Raja Parasuraman1; 1George Mason University
When we interact with others, we use nonverbal cues to understand, explain and predict their behavior. For example, gaze direction informs about what others are interested in and allows us to infer their intentions and action goals. Observing changes in gaze direction in others triggers shifts of attention to the gazed-at location – a process that is enhanced when the gazer is believed to have a mind. Attributing mind to others is associated with activation in the social brain network, including the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), and the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ). In the current experiment, we used transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to investigate the causal role of these two areas for modulating low-level mechanisms of social cognition, such as attending to gaze signals. The gaze cues were sent either by an agent with a mind (i.e., human) or without a mind (i.e., robot) and participants (N= 90) performed the task with both agents after random assignment to one of three conditions: active stimulation to the ACC, active stimulation to the TPJ (both at 2mA for 30 minutes) or sham stimulation (2mA ramp-up and immediate ramp-down). Active stimulation to the ACC significantly increased gaze cueing for the intentional, but not the non-intentional agent, while stimulation to the TPJ had the opposite effect; sham stimulation did not affect gaze cueing in either agent. The results indicate that stimulation of ACC enhances top-down control mechanisms relevant to gaze cueing, while stimulation of TPJ emphasizes the bottom-up features of the gaze signal.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Other