Responding to the direction of the eyes: In search of the masked gaze-cueing effect
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Recent studies have demonstrated that masked gaze cues can produce a cueing effect. Those studies, however, all utilized a localization task and, hence, are ambiguous with respect to whether the previously observed masked gaze-cueing effect reflects the orienting of attention or the preparation of a motor response. The aim of the present study was to investigate this issue by determining whether masked gaze cues can modulate responses in detection and discrimination tasks, both of which isolate spatial attention from response priming. First, we found a gaze-cueing effect for unmasked cues in detection, discrimination, and localization tasks, which suggests that the gaze-cueing effect for visible cues is not task dependent. Second, and in contrast, we found a gaze-cueing effect for masked cues in a localization task, but not in detection or discrimination tasks, which suggests that the gaze-cueing effect for masked cues is task dependent. Therefore, the present study shows that the masked gaze-cueing effect is attributed to response priming, as opposed to the orienting of spatial attention.
KeywordsVisual attention Eye gaze Masking Attentional shifts Response priming
We are grateful to Lucy Shi, Anthony Espinosa, and Mohammed Rafat for collecting the Experiment 4 data. This work was supported in part by an Australian Research Fellowship to M.F. from the Australian Research Council (DP0880806, FT120100830).
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