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Social attention when viewing natural social (compared with nonsocial) images has functional consequences on contextual memory in healthy human adults. In addition to attention affecting memory performance, strong evidence suggests that memory, in turn, affects attentional orienting. Here, we ask whether the effects of social processing on memory alter subsequent memory-guided attention orienting and corresponding anticipatory dynamics of 8-12 Hz alpha-band oscillations as measured with EEG. Eighteen young adults searched for targets in scenes that contained either social or nonsocial distracters and their memory precision tested. Subsequently, RT was measured as participants oriented to targets appearing in those scenes at either valid (previously learned) locations or invalid (different) locations. Memory precision was poorer for target locations in social scenes. In addition, distractor type moderated the validity effect during memory-guided attentional orienting, with a larger cost in RT when targets appeared at invalid (different) locations within scenes with social distractors. The poorer memory performance was also marked by reduced anticipatory dynamics of spatially lateralized 8-12 Hz alpha-band oscillations for scenes with social distractors. The functional consequences of a social attention bias therefore extend from memory to memory-guided attention orienting, a bidirectional chain that may further reinforce attentional biases.

Original publication




Journal article


J Cogn Neurosci

Publication Date





686 - 698