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Are the perceptual biases found in chimeric face processing reflected in eye-movement patterns?

Butler, S.H. and Gilchrist, I.D. and Burt, D.M. and Perrett, D.I. and Jones, E. and Harvey, M. (2005) Are the perceptual biases found in chimeric face processing reflected in eye-movement patterns? Neuropsychologia, 43 (1). pp. 52-59. ISSN 0028-3932

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Abstract

Studies of patients with focal brain lesions and neuroimaging indicate that face processing is predominantly based on right hemisphere function. Additionally, experiments using chimeric faces, where the left and the right-hand side of the face are different, have shown that observers tend to bias their responses toward the information on the left. Here, we monitored eye-movements during a gender identification task using blended face images for both whole and chimeric (half female, half male) faces [Neuropsychologia 35 (1997) 685]. As expected, we found a left perceptual bias: subjects based their gender decision significantly more frequently on the left side of the chimeric faces. Analysis of the first saccade showed a significantly greater number of left fixations independent of perceptual bias presumably reflecting the tendency to first inspect the side of the face better suited to face analysis (left side of face/right hemisphere). On top of this though, there was a relationship between response and fixation pattern. On trials where participants showed a left perceptual bias they produced significantly more left saccades and fixated for longer on the left. In contrast, for trials where participants showed a right perceptual bias there was no reliable difference between the number, or total fixation duration, on the left or the right. These results demonstrate that on a trial-by-trial basis subtle differences in the extent of left or right side scanning are related to the perceptual response of the participant, although an overall initial fixation bias to the left occurs irrespective of response bias.