Lectures and seminars Cognitive Neuroscience Club with Arvid Guterstam: "The Mind Beam hypothesis: a novel mechanism for social perception of others' attention

26-10-2021 4:00 pm Add to iCal
Campus Solna Nils Ringertz lecture room, Biomedicum floor 3, Solnavägen 9, Solna.

The Cognitive Neuroscience Club is hosting monthly webinars on the topic Cognitive Neuroscience. The webinars usually takes place during the last week of the month. On 26 October 2021, we welcome Dr. Arvid Guterstam, from the Department of Clinical Neuroscience.

"The Mind Beam hypothesis: a novel mechanism for social perception of others’ attention"


Arvid Guterstam, Karolinska Institutet, Department of Clinical Neuroscience


To reconstruct other people’s intentions and beliefs (theory of mind), our brains need a model of the other’s attentional state. A traditional view in psychology is that people track attention by tracking others’ gaze, and almost all previous work has focused on perception of gaze direction. To be adaptive in aiding theory of mind, however, a model of attention should be dynamic and predictive and far more than a vector indicating gaze direction. In a recent series of studies, we have shown that people encode others’ attention as an implied motion connecting agents to attended objects. Although people report no awareness of this agent-to-object motion, it has a significant effect on motion processing areas of the brain (Guterstam et al 2020a), on behavioral measures of motion processing (Guterstam et al 2019; 2020b), and on social cognitive decisions about the attention of others (Guterstam et al 2020c). The results suggest that the brain generates a rich model of other people’s attention that uses the simplifying construct of ‘beams’ of motion coming out of the eyes and travelling toward to the object of attention (“Mind beams”), aiding social cognition. The findings may also help explain humans’ innate tendency to believe in the extramission myth of vision, the folk theory (held by most children) that vision involves an invisible substance flowing from the eyes.


Laura Crucianelli Postdoctoral researcher, Marie Curie