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Front Integr Neurosci. 2014 Mar 26;8:27. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2014.00027. eCollection 2014.

How a face may affect object-based attention: evidence from adults and 8-month-old infants.

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Dipartimento di Psicologia dello Sviluppo e della Socializzazione, Università degli Studi di Padova Padova, Italy ; Interdepartmental Center for Cognitive Science, Università degli Studi di Padova Padova, Italy.
Dipartimento di Psicologia dello Sviluppo e della Socializzazione, Università degli Studi di Padova Padova, Italy.
Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca Milano, Italy.


Object-based attention operates on perceptual objects, opening the possibility that the costs and benefits humans have to pay to move attention between-objects might be affected by the nature of the stimuli. The current study reported two experiments with adults and 8-month-old infants investigating whether object-based-attention is affected by the type of stimulus (faces vs. non-faces stimuli). Using the well-known cueing task developed by Egly et al. (1994) to study the object-based component of attention, in Experiment 1 adult participants were presented with two upright, inverted or scrambled faces and an eye-tracker measured their saccadic latencies to find a target that could appear on the same object that was just cued or on the other object that was uncued. Data showed that an object-based effect (a smaller cost to shift attention within- compared to between-objects) occurred only with scrambled face, but not with upright or inverted faces. In Experiment 2 the same task was performed with 8-month-old infants, using upright and inverted faces. Data revealed that an object-based effect emerges only for inverted faces but not for upright faces. Overall, these findings suggest that object-based attention is modulated by the type of stimulus and by the experience acquired by the viewer with different objects.


eye-tracker; faces; infancy; object-based attention; visual attention

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