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Psychon Bull Rev. 2010 Aug;17(4):529-35. doi: 10.3758/PBR.17.4.529.

Cuing effects of faces are dependent on handedness and visual field.

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Psychology Department, New York University, 6 Washington Place, New York, NY 10003, USA.


Faces are unlike other visual objects we encounter, in that they alert us to potentially relevant social information. Both face processing and spatial attention are dominant in the right hemisphere of the human brain, with a stronger lateralization in right- than in left-handers. Here, we demonstrate behavioral evidence for an effect of handedness on performance in tasks using faces to direct attention. Nonpredictive, peripheral cues (faces or dots) directed exogenous attention to contrast-varying stimuli (Gabor patches)-a tilted target, a vertical distractor, or both; observers made orientation discriminations on the target stimuli. Whereas cuing with dots increased contrast sensitivity in both groups, cuing with faces increased contrast sensitivity in right- but not in left-handers, for whom opposite hemifield effects resulted in no net increase. Our results reveal that attention modulation by face cues critically depends on handedness and visual hemifield. These previously unreported interactions suggest that such lateralized systems may be functionally connected.

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