Cuing effects of faces are dependent on handedness and visual field

Emma Ferneyhough, Damian A. Stanley, Elizabeth A. Phelps, Marisa Carrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Faces are unlike other visual objects we encounter, in that they alert us to potentially relevant social information. Both face processing and spatial attention are dominant in the right hemisphere of the human brain, with a stronger lateralization in right- than in left-handers. Here, we demonstrate behavioral evidence for an effect of handedness on performance in tasks using faces to direct attention. Nonpredictive, peripheral cues (faces or dots) directed exogenous attention to contrast-varying stimuli (Gabor patches)-a tilted target, a vertical distractor, or both; observers made orientation discriminations on the target stimuli. Whereas cuing with dots increased contrast sensitivity in both groups, cuing with faces increased contrast sensitivity in right- but not in left-handers, for whom opposite hemifield effects resulted in no net increase. Our results reveal that attention modulation by face cues critically depends on handedness and visual hemifield. These previously unreported interactions suggest that such lateralized systems may be functionally connected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)529-535
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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