Humans are social animals, constantly engaged with other people. The importance of social thought and action is hard to overstate. However, is social information so important that it actually determines which stimuli are promoted to conscious experience and which stimuli are suppressed as invisible? To address this question, we used a binocular rivalry paradigm, in which the two eyes receive different action stimuli. In two experiments we measured the conscious percept of rival actions and found that actions engaged in social interactions are granted preferential access to visual awareness over non-interactive actions. Lastly, an attentional task that presumably engaged the mentalizing system enhanced the priority assigned to social interactions in reaching conscious perception. We also found a positive correlation between human identification of interactive activity and the promotion of socially-relevant information to visual awareness. The present findings suggest that the visual system amplifies socially-relevant sensory information and actively promotes it to consciousness, thereby facilitating inferences about social interactions.
Research Professor on society, culture, art, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, neuroscience, autopoiesis, self-organization, complexity, systems, networks, rhizomes, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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