New paper on individual differences in the feeling of being looked at

Lorena R.R. Gianotti, Janek S. Lobmaier, Cinzia Calluso, Franziska M. Dahinden, Daria Knoch  

Direct eye gaze is a powerful stimulus in social interactions, yet people vary considerably in the range of gaze lines that they accept as being direct (cone of direct gaze, CoDG). Here, we searched for a possible neural trait marker of these individual differences. We measured the width of the CoDG in 137 healthy participants and related their individual CoDG to their neural baseline activation as measured with resting electroencephalogram. Using a source-localization technique, we found that resting theta current density in the left temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) and adjacent posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) was associated with the width of CoDG. Our findings suggest that the higher the baseline cortical activation in the left TPJ/pSTS, the wider the CoDG and thus the more liberal the individuals’ judgments were in deciding whether a looker stimulus was making eye contact or not. This is a first demonstration of the neural signatures underlying individual differences in the feeling of being looked at.

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