Implied motion as a possible mechanism for encoding other people's attention

Arvid Guterstam, Michael S.A. Graziano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Recent evidence suggests that the human brain automatically constructs a rich model of other people's attention, beyond registering low-level cues such as someone else's gaze direction. This model is not a physically accurate representation of attention, but instead appears to contain simplifying and physically incoherent features. For example, without explicitly realizing it, people treat the attentive gaze of others as though it exerts a gentle force pushing on objects. Here we specify another aspect of that implicit model of attention. People treat the attentive gaze of an agent as though it were travelling through space, with an implied motion encoded literally enough that it causes a perceptual motion adaptation effect. This implicit model of other people's attention may facilitate the process of keeping track of who is attending to what, which is essential for reading and predicting the minds and behavior of social agents. This implicit model of attention may also have shaped culturally widespread ideas about mind and spirit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101797
JournalProgress in Neurobiology
StatePublished - Jul 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


  • Gaze
  • Implied motion
  • Motion adaptation
  • Social cognition
  • Theory of mind
  • Visual attention


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