ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (suppl.): 29-29.

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Gaze Cues Stored in Working Memory Trigger Automatic Attentional Orienting

Haoyue Jia,b, Li Wanga,b, Yi Jianga,b   

  1. aState Key Laboratory of Brain and Cognitive Science, CAS Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology, Institute of Psychology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 16 Lincui Road, Chaoyang Dist., Beijing, China, 100101;
    bDepartment of Psychology, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 19A Yuquan Road, Shijingshan Dist., Beijing, China, 100049
  • Online:2019-08-26 Published:2022-03-21

Abstract: PURPOSE: Previous research has shown that social cues including eye gaze can readily guide our focus of attention. However, it remains unknown whether such effect hinges on the cues being ‘online'. Here, we demonstrate that merely maintaining social cues in working memory (WM) can elicit a similar attentional orienting effect.
METHODS: In Experiment 1, using the delayed-match-to-sample paradigm combined with the dot-probe task, participants were first required to memorize a face with averted eye gaze (leftward or rightward) for an identity recognition test at the end of trial. Then, participants were instructed to localize a periphery target following the face. Experiment 2 replicated the design and procedure employed in Experiment 1, except that participants were asked to hold arrows pointing leftward or rightward in WM.
RESULTS: We found that holding a face image with task-irrelevant averted eye gaze in WM could automatically induce attentional orienting to the gazed-at location. Importantly, such WM-induced attention effect could not be explained by the perceptual attentional process, because the identical gaze cues that were only passively viewed and not memorized in WM didn't trigger attentional orienting beyond the time window of typical social attention. Furthermore, non-social cues (i.e., arrows) held in WM also failed to elicit the automatic attentional orienting effect.
CONCLUSIONS: The current study provides clear evidence that social but not non-social cues stored in WM can guide spatial attention akin to that with actual presentation of stimuli, and highlights the uniqueness of brain mechanisms underlying social attention as compared to non-social attention.

Key words: social attention, working memory, eye gaze, arrows