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  Eyes only? Effects of observing shared attention on gaze following

Böckler, A. (2015). Eyes only? Effects of observing shared attention on gaze following. Talk presented at Psychologie & Gehirn. Frankfurt am Main, Germany. 2015-06-04 - 2015-06-06.

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Item Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-2FA4-6 Version Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-D0D8-5
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 Creators:
Böckler, Anne1, Author              
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1Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634552              

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 Abstract: Humans are highly sensitive to information provided by others’ eyes. Indeed, attention is rapidly shifted according to others’ gaze direction (i.e., ‘gaze following’) and information processing is boosted when provided by faces establishing eye contact (i.e., ‘eye contact effect’). Linking these findings, previous research suggests that gaze following is enhanced after eye contact had been established. The present set of studies investigated whether and how gaze following is modulated when eye contact is merely observed between others. Participants saw two faces that were either looking at each other or away from each other before jointly shifting gaze towards one of two target locations. Targets either appeared at the gazed at (congruent) or the non-gazed (incongruent) at location. This experiment was completed by neuro-typical adults, by adults diagnosed with high-functioning autism (HFA), and by 12 month old infants. Results revealed that gaze following (faster responses to congruent versus incongruent trials) was enhanced after observing eye contact (as opposed to averted gaze) in healthy adults. While this effect was absent in participants with HFA, neuro-typical infants already showed sensitivity for observed eye contact. Results from an fMRI study employing the same paradigm revealed enhanced activation in fronto-parietal and temporal areas in congruent trials when faces had previously looked at each other (versus away from each other). Taken together, our results suggest that neuro-typical, but not HFA participants may have processed observed eye-contact as a signal pointing towards the importance of subsequent (gaze) behavior, thereby enhancing the processing of the directional gaze cues.

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 Dates: 2015-06
 Publication Status: Not specified
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Title: Psychologie & Gehirn
Place of Event: Frankfurt am Main, Germany
Start-/End Date: 2015-06-04 - 2015-06-06

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