Poster Session F, Tuesday, March 26, 8:00 – 10:00 am, Pacific Concourse
Salience-Driven Attention is Pivotal to Understanding Others’ Intentions
Myrthe G. Rijpma1, Suzanne M. Shdo1, Gianina Toller1, Joel H. Kramer1, Bruce L. Miller1, Katherine P. Rankin1; 1Memory and Aging Center, University of California, San Francisco, 675 Nelson Rising Ln, Suite 190
A large body of research has been generated to explain the cognitive and neural processes related to inferring other people’s mental states, often called Theory of Mind (ToM). However, most research does not use ecologically realistic test paradigms that can address how an individual selects socially important stimuli to process, and only a subset has focused on practical ToM-related constructs, such as understanding other people’s intentions. In this study, we investigated the structural neuroanatomic contributions to understanding intentions in complex social situations, using the realistic video vignette-based Awareness of Social Inference Test (TASIT) enriched version (SI-E) in 179 participants, including 102 patients with known neurodegenerative diagnoses and 77 older neurologically healthy controls. Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM12) was used for voxel-based morphometry and structural regions of interest (ROIs) were derived to correspond with key nodes in three functional intrinsically connected networks (ICNs). In concordance with previous ToM studies, distinct neural correlates for understanding others’ intentions included ICN ROIs known to mediate executive functioning (i.e., frontoparietal network, FPN), and memory manipulation (i.e., default mode network, DMN). However, when regions related to salience-driven attention (i.e., salience network, SN) were included in the models, only the SN ROIs independently predicted the ability to infer intentions (p < 0.001), suggesting the FPN and DMN regions may only play a secondary role. Thus, online attention-attribution and selection of socially important information were found to be vital to correctly infer other people’s intentions from realistically complex stimuli, supporting the essential role of attention for normal social cognition.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Person perception