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Exp Brain Res. 2007 Oct;183(1):87-94. Epub 2007 Jul 12.

Attentional shift by gaze is triggered without awareness.

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Department of Comparative Study of Cognitive Development, Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University, Inuyama, Aichi, 484-8506, Japan.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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