Attentional bias to brief threat-related faces revealed by saccadic eye movements

Rachel L Bannerman, Maarten V Milders, Arash Sahraie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


According to theories of emotion and attention, we are predisposed to orient rapidly toward threat. However, previous examination of attentional cueing by threat showed no enhanced capture at brief durations, a finding that may be related to the sensitivity of the manual response measure used. Here we
investigated the time course of orienting attention toward fearful faces in the exogenous cueing task. Cue duration (20 ms or 100 ms) and response mode (saccadic or manual) were manipulated. In the saccade mode, both enhanced attentional capture and impaired disengagement from fearful faces were evident
and limited to 20 ms, suggesting that saccadic cueing effects emerge rapidly and are short lived. In the manual mode, fearful faces impacted only upon the disengagement component of attention at 100 ms, suggesting that manual cueing effects emerge over longer periods of time. Importantly, saccades could
reveal threat biases at brief cue durations consistent with current theories of emotion and attention.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)733-738
Number of pages6
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


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