EEG alpha and theta signatures of socially and non-socially cued working memory in virtual reality

Gregory, SEA ORCID:, Wang, H and Kessler, K 2021, 'EEG alpha and theta signatures of socially and non-socially cued working memory in virtual reality' , Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 17 (6) , pp. 531-540.

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In this preregistered study ( we investigated the behavioural and neurological (EEG; alpha (attention) and theta (effort)) effects of dynamic non-predictive social and non-social cues on working memory. In a virtual environment realistic human-avatars dynamically looked to the left or right side of a table. A moving stick served as a non-social control cue. Kitchen items were presented in the valid cued or invalid un-cued location for encoding. Behavioural findings showed a similar influence of the cues on workingmemory performance. Alpha power changes were equivalent for the cues during cuing and encoding, reflecting similar attentional processing. However, theta power changes revealed different patterns for the cues. Theta power increased more strongly for the non-social cue compared to the social cue during initial cuing. Further, while for the non-social cue there was a significantly larger increase in theta power for valid compared to invalid conditions during encoding, this was reversed for the social cue, with a significantly larger increase in theta power for the invalid compared to valid conditions, indicating differences in the cues’ effects on cognitive effort. Therefore, while social and non-social attention cues impact working memory performance in a similar fashion, the underlying neural mechanisms appear to differ.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society > Centre for Health Sciences Research
Journal or Publication Title: Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 1749-5016
Related URLs:
Funders: Leverhulme Trust
Depositing User: USIR Admin
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2021 12:46
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 08:33

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