Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 183, Issue 1, pp 87–94 | Cite as

Attentional shift by gaze is triggered without awareness

  • Wataru Sato
  • Takashi Okada
  • Motomi Toichi
Research Article


Reflexive attentional shift in response to another individual’s gaze direction has been reported, but it remains unknown whether this process can occur subliminally. We investigated this issue using facial stimuli consisting of drawings (Experiment 1) and photographs (Experiment 2). The gaze direction was expressed by the eye gaze direction (Experiment 1), and the eye gaze and head direction (Experiment 2). The gaze cue was presented either supraliminally or subliminally in the center of the visual field, before target presentation in the periphery. The task for participants was to localize the target as soon as possible. The reaction time needed to localize the target was consistently shorter for valid than invalid gaze cues for both types of gaze cues in both subliminal and supraliminal conditions. These findings indicate that attentional shift can be triggered even without awareness in response to another individual’s eye gaze or head direction.


Attentional shift Awareness Gaze Subliminal presentation 



This study was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Comparative Study of Cognitive Development (funded by Benesse Corporation), Primate Research InstituteKyoto UniversityInuyamaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Neuropsychiatry, Faculty of MedicineKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  3. 3.School of Health Sciences, Faculty of MedicineKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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