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M.D. Rutherford, Marcus Morrisey, Ruth Hofrichter; Human faces capture attention and attract first saccades without longer dwell times. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):169. doi: 10.1167/18.10.169.
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Introduction: Human faces attract attention, evidenced by reaction time (RT) advantages over non-face stimuli in visual search tasks (Downing, Bray, Rogers, & Childs, 2004; Ro, Friggel, & Lavie, 2007). Method: On each trial, participants were cued with one of 6 possible categories names (automobiles, birds, chairs, dogs, faces, or plants). A circular array of 6 images, one exemplar from each category, was then presented. Participants' task was to indicated whether the target in the green frame did or did not match the cue. Foil images were framed in blue. Participants' eye movements were tracked during the search task to test how the attentional capture of faces is related to looking behavior, including dwell time and saccadic eye-movement. Results: Faces as targets resulted in faster search times (Wald X2 = 13.1, p = .02), which is consistent with previous research (Ro, Friggel & Lavie, 2007). Faces were more likely to capture first fixations (Wald X2 = 57.2, p = .02) regardless of whether they were the target. Faces exhibited shorter dwell times compared to other categories (Wald X2 = 140.2, p = .001), again regardless of whether they were the target image. Discussion: Faces effectively captured attention, attracting first fixations, and were fixated for shorter durations. Thus, participants appeared to be more fluent at processing faces, resulting in ultra-rapid face processing. These results suggest that RT advantages for faces are due to both attention capture and ultra-rapid processing.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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