Wissenschaftsschwerpunkt der

MindTalk: Neural and behavioural mechanisms of attention in live social interactions (Prof. Dr. Louisa Kulke)

Attention is affected by the social context we are in: Adults enjoy looking at other people when they watch television at home, but they will inhibit themselves from staring at strangers in a crowded elevator.

The current talk compares attention in live interactions, video-chats and videos. It shows, firstly, that eye movements significantly differ between live interactions and videos: Adults look significantly less at a stranger in a live social situations than in a video. This lack of gaze is not due to disinterest. Co-registration of eye-tracking and EEG allowed us to measure neural responses related to attention, showing comparable attentiveness in live social situations as when watching a videos, even though gaze patterns differ. This suggests that people inhibit their gaze to strangers in live social situations, even if they are interested in them.

People’s attention in social situations can depend on different factors. Firstly, it can depend on age. We could demonstrate that the social inhibition of gaze already exists in infancy and develops until early childhood. Secondly, it may depend on individual differences. We will summarize findings from clinical populations with autism and anxiety disorders. Thirdly, it can depend on the interaction partner, whose emotions may play a role. The talk will summarize findings regarding emotion effects in live interactions, videochats and videos. Furthermore, technology may play a role. We will present a study investigating gaze to android robots compared to humans.

In summary, attention is strongly influenced by social context and this effect develops with age.