Functional and Neural Mechanisms for Eye Gaze Processing

Kevin A. Pelphrey and Brent C. Vander Wyk

in Oxford Handbook of Face Perception

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199559053
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Functional and Neural Mechanisms for Eye Gaze Processing

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  • Cognitive Psychology


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The capacity to extract socially relevant information from faces is fundamental to normal reciprocal social interactions and communication. The psychophysical evidence reviewed here demonstrates that humans possess a perceptual apparatus sensitive enough to detect the visual features which are informative of gaze in many face-to-face situations. This article provides evidence for the existence of three functionally and neuroanatomically dissociable eye gaze processing systems. Eye gaze also represents a class of biological motion cues, which engage the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) for the analysis of intentions and psychological dispositions. Outputs from the anterior superior temporal sulcus constrain processing in the pSTS, linking the observed direction of gaze towards an object or person in the environment with the mentalistic information provided by the gaze shift. A few promising research directions for the field are highlighted.

Keywords: social interactions; eye gaze processing; posterior superior temporal sulcus; psychological dispositions; gaze shift

Article.  7147 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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