Specificity of age-related differences in eye-gaze following: Evidence from social and non-social stimuli

Gillian Slessor, Cristina Venturini, Emily J Bonny, Pauline Margaret Insch, Anna Rokaszewicz, Ailbhe Noelle Finnerty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND:
Eye-gaze following is a fundamental social skill, facilitating communication. The present series of studies explored adult age-related differences in this key social-cognitive ability.

METHOD:
In Study 1 younger and older adult participants completed a cueing task in which eye-gaze cues were predictive or non-predictive of target location. Another eye-gaze cueing task, assessing the influence of congruent and incongruent eye-gaze cues relative to trials which provided no cue to target location, was administered in Study 2. Finally, in Study 3 the eye-gaze cue was replaced by an arrow.

RESULTS:
In Study 1 older adults showed less evidence of gaze following than younger participants when required to strategically follow predictive eye-gaze cues and when making automatic shifts of attention to non-predictive eye-gaze cues. Findings from Study 2 suggested that, unlike younger adults, older participants showed no facilitation effect and thus did not follow congruent eye-gaze cues. They also had significantly weaker attentional costs than their younger counterparts. These age-related differences were not found in the non-social arrow cueing task.

DISCUSSION:
Taken together these findings suggest older adults do not use eye-gaze cues to engage in joint attention, and have specific social difficulties decoding critical information from the eye region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-22
Number of pages12
JournalJournals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume71
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

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stimulus
Cues
evidence
cognitive ability
communication skills
young adult
Young Adult
present
costs
Communication
Costs and Cost Analysis

Keywords

  • aging
  • arrows
  • attention
  • eye-gaze
  • orienting

Cite this

Specificity of age-related differences in eye-gaze following : Evidence from social and non-social stimuli. / Slessor, Gillian; Venturini, Cristina; Bonny, Emily J; Insch, Pauline Margaret; Rokaszewicz, Anna; Finnerty, Ailbhe Noelle.

In: Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, Vol. 71, No. 1, 01.2016, p. 11-22.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Slessor, Gillian ; Venturini, Cristina ; Bonny, Emily J ; Insch, Pauline Margaret ; Rokaszewicz, Anna ; Finnerty, Ailbhe Noelle. / Specificity of age-related differences in eye-gaze following : Evidence from social and non-social stimuli. In: Journals of Gerontology. Series B, Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. 2016 ; Vol. 71, No. 1. pp. 11-22.
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