Sensitivity to orientation is not unique to social attention cueing

Tim Vestner, Katie L H Gray, Richard Cook

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


It is well-established that faces and bodies cue observers' visuospatial attention; for example, target items are found faster when their location is cued by the directionality of a task-irrelevant face or body. Previous results suggest that these cueing effects are greatly reduced when the orientation of the task-irrelevant stimulus is inverted. It remains unclear, however, whether sensitivity to orientation is a unique hallmark of "social" attention cueing or a more general phenomenon. In the present study, we sought to determine whether the cueing effects produced by common objects (power drills, desk lamps, desk fans, cameras, bicycles, and cars) are also attenuated by inversion. When cueing stimuli were shown upright, all six object classes produced highly significant cueing effects. When shown upside-down, however, the results were mixed. Some of the cueing effects (e.g., those induced by bicycles and cameras) behaved liked faces and bodies: they were greatly reduced by orientation inversion. However, other cueing effects (e.g., those induced by cars and power drills) were insensitive to orientation: upright and inverted exemplars produced significant cueing effects of comparable strength. We speculate that (i) cueing effects depend on the rapid identification of stimulus directionality, and (ii) some cueing effects are sensitive to orientation because upright exemplars of those categories afford faster processing of directionality, than inverted exemplars. Contrary to the view that attenuation-by-inversion is a unique hallmark of social attention, our findings indicate that some non-social cueing effects also exhibit sensitivity to orientation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5059
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Attention
  • Social Interaction Perception
  • Gaze Cueing
  • Spatial Orientation
  • Attention Cueing


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