The role of inhibition in response selection with endogenous and socially-relevant cues

Lead Research Organisation: Royal Holloway, University of London
Department Name: Psychology

Abstract

Social cues are known to be particularly important for interpreting the intentions of another individual. It has been suggested that such cues may have a special status by automatically shifting our attention. Evidence for this special status has been obtained from studies in which a social cue, for example the direction of another person's eye gaze, has been shown to facilitate the response of the observer. We aim to extend these studies by using a wider range of social cues - such as body postures and gestures (such as a person pointing towards an object). A series of behavioural experiments will be performed in which the eye movements made by an observer in either the same, or opposite, direction to that indicated by a social cue are compared. Two new methods will be used. First, the patterns of tiny movements of the eyes (called micro-saccades) observed during the planning stage of responses will be examined. Second, the shape of the trajectories of the larger eye-movement responses will be used. The aim of using these two complementary measures is to characterise the facilitatory and inhibitory processes involved in the selection of an appropriate response.