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Title: Gaze perception and social attention
Author: Ricciardelli, Paola
ISNI:       0000 0001 3515 7508
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2001
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Orienting our own attention in the same direction as another person is a common example of social attention. Gaze direction and its perception offer an effective way to signal or perceive someone's current interest. Past accounts of gaze perception emphasised just geometrical cues from the seen eye. But human eyes have a unique morphology, with a large white surround (sclera) to the dark iris that may have evolved to enhance gaze processing. A series of new experiments show that the contrast polarity of seen eyes has a powerful influence on gaze perception. Adult observers are highly inaccurate in judging gaze direction for images of human eyes with negative contrast polarity, regardless of whether the surrounding face is shown in positive or negative polarity. The detrimental effect of negative contrast polarity is much larger for gaze perception than for other directional judgements (e.g. seen head direction). Cueing effects from seen gaze on the direction of the observer's own attention is also reduced for negative polarity eye stimuli. These results suggest an "expert" system for gaze perception, invariably treating the darker region of a seen eye as the part that does the looking. Further experiments show that gaze cues can interact with cues to head angle in determining gaze perception, in a manner that depends on time pressure. New evidence is also brought for possible right-hemisphere specialisation in gaze perception, as observers are more influenced by the left visual field eye than the right eye in a seen image. Finally, studies of gaze perception in a right-parietal patient with neglect suggest that some aspects of gaze perception can be relatively preserved even when awareness of the left eye is impaired.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Iris; Eyes; Targeting; Direction