Visual search for facial expressions of emotion is less affected in simultanagnosia

Alan J. Pegna, Anne Sarah Caldara-Schnetzer, Asaid Khateb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Evidence in healthy human subjects has suggested that angry faces may be enhanced during spatial processing, perhaps even "popping-out" of a crowd. These contentions have remained controversial, but two recent reports in patients suffering from unilateral spatial neglect have lent some support to these views, suggesting that emotional faces capture attention more efficiently than neutral stimuli in the neglected field. Here, we investigate this phenomenon in a patient suffering from severe Balint's syndrome and consequent simultanagnosia. Using a visual search paradigm, we studied differences in the detection of angry, happy and neutral faces, as well as non-emotional stimuli. Results revealed that emotionally expressive faces, in particular anger, were detected more efficiently than other stimuli. These findings corroborate claims that facial expressions of emotion constitute a specific category of stimuli that attract attention more effectively, and are processed prior to attentional engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)46-53
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported in part by the Swiss National Foundation for Science (Grant no. 320000-109928 and 3151A0-102271/1).


  • Attention
  • Balint's syndrome
  • Emotion
  • Face
  • Perception
  • Simultanagnosia
  • Vision

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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