Spatial Attention to Pointing Gestures and Arrows

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Although recent research on the social brain suggests that spatial orienting is privileged for social stimuli, behavioral evidence with a spatial cueing paradigm has been elusive. We hypothesized that the difficulty in finding differential responding to social and non-social stimuli was due to the design of this paradigm which eliminated the need for observers to first select a deictic stimulus before orienting in the direction of the target. In the current research, we modified the paradigm by adding two flanking stimuli positioned laterally to the left and right of a pointing hand or arrow so that the cue would have to be selected before shifting attention in a specific direction. The response time results revealed that the pointing hand flankers interfered with the arrow cue, but not vice versa. These results suggest that the processing advantage associated with social stimuli is related to cue selection and suppression of distractors.


Psychonomic Society Annual Meeting


Long Beach, CA