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The anti-orienting phenomenon revisited: effects of gaze cues on antisaccade performance

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Abstract

When the eye gaze of a face is congruent with the direction of an upcoming target, saccadic eye movements of the observer towards that target are generated more quickly, in comparison with eye gaze incongruent with the direction of the target. This work examined the conflict in an antisaccade task, when eye gaze points towards the target, but the saccadic eye movement should be triggered in the opposite direction. In a gaze cueing paradigm, a central face provided an attentional gaze cue towards the target or away from the target. Participants (N = 38) generated pro- and antisaccades to peripheral targets that were congruent or incongruent with the previous gaze cue. Paradoxically, facilitatory effects of a gaze cue towards the target were observed for both the pro- and antisaccade tasks. The results are consistent with the idea that eye gaze cues are processed in the task set that is compatible with the saccade programme. Thus, in an antisaccade paradigm, participants may anti-orient with respect to the gaze cue, resulting in faster saccades on trials when the gaze cue is towards the target. The results resemble a previous observation by Fischer and Weber (Exp Brain Res 109:507–512, 1996) using low-level peripheral cues. The current study extends this finding to include central socially communicative cues.

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Acknowledgments

This research was funded by the Faculty of Science and Technology, Lancaster University.

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Correspondence to Felicity D. A. Wolohan.

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Wolohan, F.D.A., Crawford, T.J. The anti-orienting phenomenon revisited: effects of gaze cues on antisaccade performance. Exp Brain Res 221, 385–392 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00221-012-3180-y

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