Detecting communicative intent in a computerised test of joint attention

Journal article


Caruana, Nathan, McArthur, Genevieve, Woolgar, Alexandra and Brock, Jon. (2017). Detecting communicative intent in a computerised test of joint attention. PeerJ. 2017(1), pp. 1-16. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.2899
AuthorsCaruana, Nathan, McArthur, Genevieve, Woolgar, Alexandra and Brock, Jon
Abstract

The successful navigation of social interactions depends on a range of cognitive faculties—including the ability to achieve joint attention with others to share information and experiences. We investigated the influence that intention monitoring processes have on gaze-following response times during joint attention. We employed a virtual reality task in which 16 healthy adults engaged in a collaborative game with a virtual partner to locate a target in a visual array. In the Search task, the virtual partner was programmed to engage in non-communicative gaze shifts in search of the target, establish eye contact, and then display a communicative gaze shift to guide the participant to the target. In the NoSearch task, the virtual partner simply established eye contact and then made a single communicative gaze shift towards the target (i.e., there were no non-communicative gaze shifts in search of the target). Thus, only the Search task required participants to monitor their partner’s communicative intent before responding to joint attention bids. We found that gaze following was significantly slower in the Search task than the NoSearch task. However, the same effect on response times was not observed when participants completed non-social control versions of the Search and NoSearch tasks, in which the avatar’s gaze was replaced by arrow cues. These data demonstrate that the intention monitoring processes involved in differentiating communicative and non-communicative gaze shifts during the Search task had a measurable influence on subsequent joint attention behaviour. The empirical and methodological implications of these findings for the fields of autism and social neuroscience will be discussed.

Keywordsjoint attention; social interaction; eye-tracking; virtual reality; eye gaze; mentalising
Year2017
JournalPeerJ
Journal citation2017 (1), pp. 1-16
PublisherPeerJ Inc.
ISSN2167-8359
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.2899
PubMed ID28123912
Scopus EID2-s2.0-85011304763
PubMed Central IDPMC5244879
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
Page range1-16
FunderAustralian Research Council (ARC)
Australian Postgraduate Award, Australian Goverment
Publisher's version
License
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online17 Jan 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited16 Nov 2023
ARC Funded ResearchThis output has been funded, wholly or partially, under the Australian Research Council Act 2001
Grant IDCE110001021
DE120100898
DP098466
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