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The phenomenon known as "gaze cueing," a powerful signal for orienting attention, is a mechanism that likely plays a role in the developmentally and socially important wonder of "shared" or "joint" attention where a number of people attend to the same object or location. Pixabay

As more and more people use video conferencing tools to stay connected in social distancing times, neuroscientists from Florida Atlantic University have found that a person’s gaze is altered during tele-communication if they think that the person on the other end of the conversation can see them.

The phenomenon known as “gaze cueing,” a powerful signal for orienting attention, is a mechanism that likely plays a role in the developmentally and socially important wonder of “shared” or “joint” attention where a number of people attend to the same object or location.


“Because gaze direction conveys so much socially relevant information, one’s own gaze behaviour is likely to be affected by whether one’s eyes are visible to a speaker,” said Elan Barenholtz, associate professor of psychology. For example, people may intend to signal that they are paying more attention to a speaker by fixating their face or eyes during a conversation.

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“Conversely, extended eye contact also can be perceived as aggressive and therefore noticing one’s eyes could lead to reduced direct fixation of another’s face or eyes. Indeed, people engage in avoidant eye movements by periodically breaking and reforming eye contact during conversations,” explained Barenholtz.

People are very sensitive to the gaze direction of others and even two-day-old infants prefer faces where the eyes are looking directly back at them. Social distancing across the globe due to coronavirus (COVID-19) has created the need to conduct business “virtually” using Skype, web conferencing, FaceTime and any other means available.

For the study, published in the journal Attention, Perception & Psychophysics, the team compared fixation behaviour in 173 participants under two conditions: one in which the participants believed they were engaging in a real-time interaction and one in which they knew they were watching a pre-recorded

The researchers wanted to know if face fixation would increase in the real-time condition based on the social expectation of facing one’s speaker in order to get attention or if it would lead to greater face avoidance, based on social norms as well as the cognitive demands of encoding the conversation.

Results showed that participants fixated on the whole face in the real-time condition and significantly less in the pre-recorded condition. In the pre-recorded condition, time spent fixating on the mouth was significantly greater compared to the real-time condition. There were no significant differences in time spent fixating on the eyes between the real-time and the pre-recorded conditions. To simulate a live interaction, the researchers convinced participants that they were engaging in a real-time, two-way video interaction (it was actually pre-recorded).

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When the face was fixated, attention was directed toward the mouth for the greater percentage of time in the pre-recorded condition versus the real-time condition. “Given that encoding and memory have been found to be optimized by fixating the mouth, which was reduced overall in the real-time condition, this suggests that people do not fully optimize for speech encoding in a live interaction,” the authors wrote. (IANS)


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On the opening day of the wrestling competition, Ravi Kumar defeated Bulgaria's Georgi Vangelov 14-4 on technical superiority to reach the last-four in the men's 57kg category, while compatriot Deepak Punia overcame China's Zushen Lin 6-3 on points to advance to the semifinals.

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Earlier, Ravi Kumar had won his opening-round bout by technical superiority against Colombia's Oscar Tigreros to secure a quarterfinal spot. Competing in the Round-of-16 bout against the Colombian wrestler, the 23-year-old Ravi Kumar, who is making his Olympic debut, showed no nerves as he dominated the bout to win by technical superiority (13-2).

Ravi Kumar landed attack after attack and went 13-2 up, winning the bout by technical superiority with minutes to spare. In wrestling, building up a 10-point lead over the opponent results in a victory by technical superiority.

India's 86kg freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia showed no signs of the niggle that had forced him to pull out of the Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw in June, as he defeated Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor on technical superiority to secure a quarterfinal berth.

He got his Olympic campaign to a fine start as he was in control from the start of the bout and hardly ever allowed his Nigerian opponent any room to maneuver his moves, finally winning with a 12-1 on technical superiority.

Punia, who had also suffered an elbow injury just before the Games, was slow at the start but came into his own as the bout progressed, inflicting takedowns at regular intervals to earn points.

The Indian wrestler eased into a 4-1 lead at the break and extended his lead comfortably in the second period.

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