The winner takes it all: Event-related brain potentials reveal enhanced motivated attention toward athletes' nonverbal signals of leading

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Observers of sports can reliably estimate who is leading or trailing based on nonverbal cues. Most likely, this is due to an adaptive mechanism of detecting motivationally relevant signals such as high status, superiority, and dominance. We reasoned that the relevance of leading athletes should lead to a sustained attentional prioritization. To test this idea, we recorded electroencephalography while 45 participants saw brief stills of athletes and estimated whether they were leading or trailing. Based on these recordings, we assessed event-related potentials and focused on the late positive complex (LPC), a well-established signature of controlled attention to motivationally relevant visual stimuli. Confirming our expectation, we found that LPC amplitude was significantly enhanced for leading as compared to trailing athletes. Moreover, this modulation was significantly related to behavioral performance on the score-estimation task. The present data suggest that subtle cues related to athletic supremacy are reliably differentiated in the human brain, involving a strong attentional orienting toward leading athletes. This mechanism might be part of an adaptive cognitive strategy that guides human social behavior.

OriginalspracheEnglisch
ZeitschriftSocial Neuroscience
Jahrgang12
Heft4
Seiten (von - bis)448-457
Seitenumfang10
DOIs
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 08.2017

ID: 3000357

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