The control of attention to faces



Bindemann M, Burton AM, Langton S, Schweinberger SR & Doherty M (2007) The control of attention to faces. Journal of Vision, 7 (10), Art. No.: 15.;

Humans attend to faces. This study examines the extent to which attention biases to faces are under top-down control. In a visual cueing paradigm, observers responded faster to a target probe appearing in the location of a face cue than of a competing object cue ( Experiments 1a and 2a). This effect could be reversed when faces were negatively predictive of the likely target location, making it beneficial to attend to the object cues ( Experiments 1b and 2b). It was easier still to strategically shift attention to predictive face cues ( Experiment 2c), indicating that the endogenous allocation of attention was augmented here by an additional effect. However, faces merely delayed the voluntary deployment of attention to object cues, but they could not prevent it, even at short cue-target intervals. This finding suggests that attention biases for faces can be rapidly countered by an observer's endogenous control.

attention; faces; endogenous control; Face perception; Facial expression

Journal of Vision: Volume 7, Issue 10

Publication date31/07/2007
PublisherAssociation for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology
Publisher URL…nt/7/10/15.short

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Dr Stephen Langton
Dr Stephen Langton

Senior Lecturer, Psychology