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Neuropsychologia. 2009 Mar;47(4):1053-60. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2008.11.004. Epub 2008 Nov 13.

Neural correlates of the stare-in-the-crowd effect.

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1
Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Nagasaki University, 1-12-4 Sakamoto-cho, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki Prefecture 852-8523, Japan.

Abstract

The present study investigated the neural mechanism underlying the stare-in-the-crowd effect by measuring event-related-potentials. The results showed that neural activity was modulated by the type of the target face, either a face with a straight gaze or one with an averted gaze, at several dissociable stages of neural processing. Specifically, the target type modulated both early sensory components and late components that are presumably linked to emotional responses. Moreover, N2pc, a reliable indicator of attention deployment, was recorded in subjects searching for the straight target, but was drastically diminished in subjects searching for the averted target. In sum, the efficiency of the search for the straight gaze derives from both attention capture by and efficient processing of the straight gaze.

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