Communicative gaze (e.g., mutual or averted) has been shown to affect attentional orienting. However, no study to date has clearly separated the neural basis of the pure social component that modulates attentional orienting in response to communicative gaze from other processes that might be a combination of attentional and social effects. We used TMS to isolate the purely social effects of communicative gaze on attentional orienting. Participants completed a gaze-cueing task with a humanoid robot who engaged either in mutual or in averted gaze before shifting its gaze. Before the task, participants received either sham stimulation (baseline), stimulation of right TPJ (rTPJ), or dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC). Results showed, as expected, that communicative gaze affected attentional orienting in baseline condition. This effect was not evident for rTPJ stimulation. Interestingly, stimulation to rTPJ also canceled out attentional orienting altogether. On the other hand, dmPFC stimulation eliminated the socially driven difference in attention orienting between the two gaze conditions while maintaining the basic general attentional orienting effect. Thus, our results allowed for separation of the pure social effect of communicative gaze on attentional orienting from other processes that are a combination of social and generic attentional components.

You do not currently have access to this content.