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Eyes and attention of men and women meander in distinctly different ways

Date:
July 31, 2012
Source:
University of Southern California
Summary:
Researchers show that the eyes and attention of men and women meander in distinctly different ways. Men park their eyes on the speaker's mouth. Women shift their focus between the speakers eyes and body.

In a new study published in the journal Vision Research, researchers at the University of Southern California show that the eyes and attention of men and women meander in distinctly different ways.

The article, authored by Dr. Laurent Itti and doctoral student John Shen, challenges the way scientists generally conceive of attention, or how sensory information is prioritized. While previous study of vision and attention had disregarded individual factors such as sex, race and age, Itti and Shen demonstrated that men and women pay visual attention in different ways.

Dr. Itti's lab studied 34 participants as they watched videos of people being interviewed. Behind the interview subjects, within the video frame, pedestrians, bicycles and cars passed by -- distractions included to pull attention away from the filmed conversation.

While participants watched and listened to the interview, another camera was pointed at participants' eyes, recording the movement of their pupils as they glanced across the screen.

Researchers discovered the following: • Men, when focused on the person being interviewed, parked their eyes on the speaker's mouth. They tended to be most distracted by distinctive movement behind the interview subjects • By contrast, women shift their focus between the interview subject's eyes and body. When they were distracted, it was typically by other people entering the video frame.

Dr. Laurent Itti, an associate professor of computer science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, runs USC's iLab, a research lab dedicated to gaining insight into biological brain function through the use of computational modeling. John Shen, also with iLab, is a Ph.D. student in the USC Neuroscience Graduate Program at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and conducted this research as part of his doctoral thesis and USC Provost Neuroscience Fellowship.

Funding for the project came from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Army Research Office, the U.S. Army.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Southern California. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. John Shen, Laurent Itti. Top-down influences on visual attention during listening are modulated by observer sex. Vision Research, 2012; 65: 62 DOI: 10.1016/j.visres.2012.06.001

Cite This Page:

University of Southern California. "Eyes and attention of men and women meander in distinctly different ways." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731151743.htm>.
University of Southern California. (2012, July 31). Eyes and attention of men and women meander in distinctly different ways. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731151743.htm
University of Southern California. "Eyes and attention of men and women meander in distinctly different ways." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120731151743.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

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