Experimental Brain Research

, Volume 236, Issue 4, pp 1041–1052 | Cite as

Face stimulus eliminates antisaccade-cost: gaze following is a different kind of arrow

Research Article


When a person suddenly looks in a certain direction, others seem to shift their attention to the same, looked-at, location. This common observation, that gaze-of-another seems to trigger reflexive shifts of attention within an observer, has been demonstrated in various studies. Yet just how reflexive it truly is, is an on-going controversy. Unlike most studies in which gaze cues were distractors in a cueing paradigm, the current study used gaze cues as triggers in a mixed pro- and anti-saccade task and a Posner-like discrimination task. In a set of two experiments, we investigated whether attention triggered by gaze-of-another differs from attention triggered by peripheral (exogenous) and arrow stimuli. In the first experiment, gaze cues resulted in slowed saccadic responses and in the elimination of the anti-saccade-cost associated with reflexive orienting. Pro-saccades triggered by peripheral cues had significantly fewer errors and shorter reaction times than anti-saccades. However, there was no significant difference between pro and anti-saccades triggered by gaze cues. Thus, counter to expectations, gaze did not produce reflexive shifts of overt attention. The second experiment showed that attention triggered by gaze cues is no different from attention triggered by biologically irrelevant arrow cues. They both eliminated the anti-saccade-cost and displayed prolonged reaction times. However, manual discrimination RTs showed no significant differences between gaze and peripheral cues. Together, these results suggest that neither gaze nor arrow cues trigger reflexive shifts of overt attention.


Saccade Overt-attention Covert-attention Reflexive Gaze 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael
  2. 2.The Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research CenterBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael

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