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Alexandra Frischen, Steven P. Tipper; Eye-gaze cues evoke longer-term inhibitory effects of attentional orienting. Journal of Vision 2004;4(8):832. doi: 10.1167/4.8.832.
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Similarly to non-predictive peripheral cues, observed eye-gaze shifts trigger rapid and automatic orienting of attention to the gazed-at location. This is evident in facilitated reaction times (RTs) to targets at the gazed-at (cued) compared to the opposite (uncued) location. In contrast to peripheral cueing, such attention shifts via gaze are thought to be relatively transient and do not seem to evoke subsequent inhibition processes. That is, at longer cue-target intervals, delayed RTs to cued compared to uncued targets (the “inhibition of return” phenomenon) have never been observed. We conducted two series of experiments to challenge this established view. In the first series we confirmed previous work demonstrating rapid cueing at an SOA of 200 ms and no effects at a longer (1200 ms) SOA. However, the second series of experiments demonstrated: 1. Eye-gaze cueing effects can be observed over substantially longer periods than previously believed (i.e., at an SOA of 2400 ms). 2. Most importantly, this longer-term cueing effect is inhibitory. This inhibition effect was replicated across different response-modes and task demands. We propose that in social cueing situations, inhibitory effects take longer to emerge and/or are masked by sustained facilitation at the cued location at shorter cue-target intervals.
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