Dissociable effects of averted "gaze" on the priming of bodily representations and motor actions.
Carr EW., Bird G., Catmur C., Winkielman P.
Gaze direction is an important stimulus that signals key details about social (dis)engagement and objects in our physical environment. Here, we explore how gaze direction influences the perceiver's processing of bodily information. Specifically, we examined how averted versus direct gaze modifies the operation of effector-centered representations (i.e., specific fingers) versus movement-centered representations (i.e., finger actions). Study 1 used a stimulus-response compatibility paradigm that tested the priming of a relevant effector or relevant movement, after observing videos of direct or averted gaze. We found a selective priming of relevant effectors, but only after averted gaze videos. Study 2 found similar priming effects with symbolic direction cues (averted arrows). Study 3 found that averted gaze cues do not influence generic spatial compatibility effects, and thus, are specific to body representations. In sum, this research suggests that both human and symbolic averted cues selectively prime relevant body-part representations, highlighting the dynamic interplay between our bodies, minds, and environments.