Attentional shift by gaze is triggered without awareness
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.
KeywordsAttentional shift Awareness Gaze Subliminal presentation
This study was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.
- Amaral DG, Price JL, Pitkanen A, Carmichael ST (1992) Anatomical organization of the primate amygdaloid complex. In: Aggleton JP (eds) The amygdala: neurobiological aspects of emotion, memory, and mental dysfunction. Wiley-Liss, New York, pp 1–66Google Scholar
- Chance M (1962) An interpretation of some agonistic postures: the role of “cut-off” acts and postures. In: Symposia of the Zoological Society of London, No. 8. Evolutionary aspects of animal communication. Academic, London, pp 71–89Google Scholar
- Friesen CK, Kingstone A (1998) The eyes have it! Reflexive orienting is triggered by nonpredictive gaze. Psychon Bull Rev 5:490–495Google Scholar
- Kobayashi H, Kohshima S (2001) Evolution of the human eye as a device for communication. In: Matsuzawa T (ed) Primate origins of human cognition and behavior. Springer, New York, pp 383–401Google Scholar
- Okada T, Sato W, Kubota Y, Usui K, Inoue Y, Murai T, Hayashi T, Toichi M (in press) Involvement of medial temporal structures in reflexive attentional shift by gaze. Soc Cogn Affect NeurosciGoogle Scholar
- Ruz M, Lupianez J (2002) A review of attentional capture: on its automaticity and sensitivity to endogenous control. Psicologica 23:283–309Google Scholar