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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was supported in part by the Swiss National Foundation for Science (Grant no. 320000-109928 and 3151A0-102271/1).
- Balint's syndrome
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience