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Karen Borrmann, Isabelle Boutet, Avi Chaudhuri; Spatial attention favors faces over non-face objects in an attentional cueing task. Journal of Vision 2003;3(9):818. doi: 10.1167/3.9.818.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Many potentially significant social signals can serve as cues for guiding attention. Given that faces are an ecologically important stimulus for the visual system, an attentional advantage that could benefit rapid processing would be an important property. Here we present evidence for an automatic allocation of attention to faces. Subjects were simultaneously presented with photographic images of a face and a house on either side of fixation, followed either by a target and a distractor symbol or by two distractor symbols displayed in the locations previously occupied by the house or face. Target detection was faster for targets in locations previously occupied by faces than for targets in locations previously occupied by houses. These data suggest an attention capture by faces. When images were inverted, response times to target location were no longer influenced by whether the target was preceded by a face or house, suggesting that the attention capture of faces may be limited to upright faces. Attention allocated to an invalid face cue appears to linger in the attended location even after stimulus offset of the face, suggesting at least partial involvement of spatial attention.
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