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PubMed published abstract. Original source abstract:

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2010 Jul 22. [Epub ahead of print]

Eyes on me: an fMRI study of the effects of social gaze on action control.

Schilbach L, Eickhoff SB, Cieslik E, Shah NJ, Fink GR, Vogeley K.

Department of Psychiatry, University of Cologne, Kerpener Str. 62, 50924 Cologne, Germany. E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


Previous evidence suggests that 'social gaze' can not only cause shifts in attention, but also can change the perception of objects located in the direction of gaze and how these objects will be manipulated by an observer. These findings implicate differences in the neural networks sub-serving action control driven by social cues as compared with nonsocial cues. Here, we sought to explore this hypothesis by using functional magnetic resonance imaging and a stimulus-response compatibility paradigm in which participants were asked to generate spatially congruent or incongruent motor responses to both social and nonsocial stimuli. Data analysis revealed recruitment of a dorsal frontoparietal network and the locus coeruleus for the generation of incongruent motor responses, areas previously implicated in controlling attention. As a correlate for the effect of 'social gaze' on action control, an interaction effect was observed for incongruent responses to social stimuli in sub-cortical structures, anterior cingulate and inferior frontal cortex. Our results, therefore, suggest that performing actions in a-albeit minimal-social context significantly changes the neural underpinnings of action control and recruits brain regions previously implicated in action monitoring, the reorienting of attention and social cognition.