The effect of fearful expressions on multiple face tracking

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Abstract

How does the visual system realize dynamic tracking? This topic has become popular within cognitive science in recent years. The classical theory argues that multiple object tracking is accomplished via pre-attention visual indexes as part of a cognitively impenetrable low-level visual system. The present research aimed to investigate whether and how tracking processes are influenced by facial expressions that convey abundant social information about one's mental state and situated environment. The results showed that participants tracked fearful faces more effectively than neutral faces. However, this advantage was only present under the low-attentional load condition, and distractor face emotion did not impact tracking performance. These findings imply that visual tracking is not driven entirely by low-level vision and encapsulated by high-level representations; rather, that facial expressions, a kind of social information, are able to influence dynamic tracking. Furthermore, the effect of fearful expressions on multiple face tracking is mediated by the availability of attentional resources. Copyright:

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Jin, H., & Xu, B. (2015). The effect of fearful expressions on multiple face tracking. Psychologica Belgica, 55(2), 101–117. https://doi.org/10.5334/pb.bi

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