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Journal Article

Holistic processing of gaze cues during interocular suppression


Seymour,  KK
Department High-Field Magnetic Resonance, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Max Planck Society;

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Jackson, C., & Seymour, K. (2022). Holistic processing of gaze cues during interocular suppression. Scientific Reports, 12(1): 7717. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-11927-w.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-75D7-0
Direct eye contact is preferentially processed over averted gaze and has been shown to gain privileged access to conscious awareness during interocular suppression. This advantage might be driven by local features associated with direct gaze, such as the amount of visible sclera. Alternatively, a holistic representation of gaze direction, which depends on the integration of head and eye information, might drive the effects. Resolving this question is interesting because it speaks to whether the processing of higher-level social information in the visual system, such as facial characteristics that rely on holistic processing, is dependent on conscious awareness. The Wollaston Illusion is a visual illusion that allows researchers to manipulate perceived gaze direction while keeping local eye features constant. Here we used this illusion to elucidate the driving factor facilitating the direct gaze advantage during interocular suppression. Using continuous flash suppression, we rendered Wollaston faces with direct and averted gaze (initially) invisible. These faces conveyed different gaze directions but contained identical eye regions. Our results showed clear evidence for a direct gaze advantage with Wollaston faces, indicating that holistic representations of gaze direction may drive the direct gaze advantage during interocular suppression.