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    Gaze-contingent reinforcement learning reveals incentive value of social signals in young children and adults

    Vernetti, Angelina and Smith, Tim J. and Senju, Atsushi (2017) Gaze-contingent reinforcement learning reveals incentive value of social signals in young children and adults. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 284 (1850), ISSN 0962-8452.

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    Abstract

    While numerous studies have demonstrated that infants and adults preferentially orient to social stimuli, it remains unclear as to what drives such preferential orienting. It has been suggested that the learned association between social cues and subsequent reward delivery might shape such social orienting. Using a novel, spontaneous indication of reinforcement learning (with the use of a gaze contingent reward-learning task), we investigated whether children and adults' orienting towards social and non-social visual cues can be elicited by the association between participants' visual attention and a rewarding outcome. Critically, we assessed whether the engaging nature of the social cues influences the process of reinforcement learning. In the current study, both children and adults learned to orient more often to the visual cues associated with reward delivery, demonstrating that cue-reward association reinforced visual orienting. More importantly, when the reward-predictive cue was social and engaging, both children and adults learned the cue-reward association faster and more efficiently than when the reward-predictive cue was social but non-engaging. These new findings indicate that social engaging cues have a positive incentive value. This could possibly be because they usually coincide with positive outcomes in real life, which could partly drive the development of social orienting.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Social attention, orienting, reinforcement learning, eye-tracking, gaze contingency, development
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Science > Psychological Sciences
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2017 12:41
    Last Modified: 02 Jun 2017 10:39
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/18077

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