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Monitoring eye movements while searching for affective faces

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A single experiment is reported in which we provide a novel analysis of eye movements during visual search to disentangle the contributions of unattended guidance and focal target processing to visual search performance. This technique is used to examine the controversial claim that unattended affective faces can guide attention during search. Results indicated that facial expression influences how efficiently the target was fixated for the first time as a function of set size. However, affective faces did not influence how efficiently the target was identified as a function of set size after it was first fixated. These findings suggest that, in the present context, facial expression can influence search before the target is attended and that the present measures are able to distinguish between the guidance of attention by targets and the processing of targets within the focus of attention.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Trent University, Ontario, Canada 2: York University, Ontario, Canada 3: University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada 4: Macquarie Centre for Cognitive Science, New South Wales, Australia

Publication date: April 1, 2008


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