Cognitive load disrupts implicit theory of mind processing

Schneider, Dana, Lam, Rebecca, Bayliss, Andrew P. and Dux, Paul E. (2012) Cognitive load disrupts implicit theory of mind processing. Psychological Science, 23 8: 842-847. doi:10.1177/0956797612439070

Author Schneider, Dana
Lam, Rebecca
Bayliss, Andrew P.
Dux, Paul E.
Title Cognitive load disrupts implicit theory of mind processing
Journal name Psychological Science   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0956-7976
Publication date 2012-08-01
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/0956797612439070
Volume 23
Issue 8
Start page 842
End page 847
Total pages 6
Place of publication Thousand Oaks, CA, United States
Publisher Sage
Collection year 2013
Language eng
Abstract Eye movements in Sally-Anne false-belief tasks appear to reflect the ability to implicitly monitor the mental states of other individuals (theory of mind, or ToM). It has recently been proposed that an early-developing, efficient, and automatically operating ToM system subserves this ability. Surprisingly absent from the literature, however, is an empirical test of the influence of domain-general executive processing resources on this implicit ToM system. In the study reported here, a dual-task method was employed to investigate the impact of executive load on eye movements in an implicit Sally-Anne false-belief task. Under no-load conditions, adult participants displayed eye movement behavior consistent with implicit belief processing, whereas evidence for belief processing was absent for participants under cognitive load. These findings indicate that the cognitive system responsible for implicitly tracking beliefs draws at least minimally on executive processing resources. Thus, even the most low-level processing of beliefs appears to reflect a capacity-limited operation.
Keyword Cognitive load
Dual-task performance
Eye movements
Implicit cognitive processes
Social cognition
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2013 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 29 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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Created: Thu, 06 Dec 2012, 12:31:06 EST by Dr Paul Dux on behalf of School of Psychology