September 2018
Volume 18, Issue 10
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   September 2018
Looking at faces is differentially modulated by context and novelty
Author Affiliations
  • Effie Pereira
    Department of Psychology, McGill University
  • Elina Birmingham
    Faculty of Education, Simon Fraser University
  • Jelena Ristic
    Department of Psychology, McGill University
Journal of Vision September 2018, Vol.18, 168. doi:
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      Effie Pereira, Elina Birmingham, Jelena Ristic; Looking at faces is differentially modulated by context and novelty. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):168. doi:

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Past studies have shown that humans preferentially and spontaneously look at social cues like faces and eyes. Here, we investigated the role of context and face novelty in this effect. Participants viewed displays depicting a face and house stimuli within their natural context, equated for size, distance from fixation, and other low-level visual properties. Each stimulus could be positioned on the left or right of fixation and presented in an upright or inverted orientation. After 250ms, the display offset, and participants were asked to identify a target occurring at the previous location of the face (eyes or mouth) or the house (top or bottom). All cue-target combinations were equally probable. To measure natural oculomotor behavior, participants were not instructed to maintain fixation and their eye movements were recorded using an eye tracker. We examined saccades launched from fixation towards one of the regions of interest (Eyes, Mouth, House top, House bottom) during the 250ms cue display. In Experiment 1, a single face and house display was presented. In Experiment 2, thirty-two different face-house pairs were used within the same task. In Experiment 1, a greater proportion of saccades were directed towards the eyes and mouth relative to the house, with larger effects for upright faces and faces presented in the left visual field. In Experiment 2, a greater proportion of saccades were directed toward the eyes relative to the mouth and the house, with no differential effects for cue orientation or face position. Together, these findings suggest that oculomotor biasing towards social cues is differentially affected by social context relative to stimulus novelty.

Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018


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