Gaze detection and gaze cuing in Alzheimer's disease

Pauline M. Insch, Gillian Slessor, Jill Warrington, Louise H. Phillips*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


People with Alzheimer's disease (AD) show problems with social processing in tasks which require the understanding of others' mental states. However traditional social processing tasks are cognitively complex, which may influence the effects of AD. Less is known about how AD influences more basic aspects of social perception, such as the ability to decode eye gaze direction or follow the gaze of another. The current research assessed whether those with AD showed difficulty in both explicitly decoding subtle manipulations of gaze direction (Study 1), and reflexively following another's eye gaze (Study 2). Those with AD were more impaired than a matched control group when making explicit discrimination distinctions between direct and averted gaze. In contrast people with Alzheimer's disease performed comparably to a control group when following gaze. This pattern indicates that more automatic aspects of social perception such as gaze following are unaffected by AD. In contrast, more controlled processes such as deciding whether someone is looking towards you are impaired in AD. This has implications for socially engaging with other people and interpreting their focus of interest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-53
Number of pages7
JournalBrain and Cognition
Early online date29 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by a grant from the Lily Charlton Trust to Louise Phillips and Donald Mowat. The authors wish to acknowledge the support of the Older Adult Mental Health Directorate at Royal Cornhill Hospital, NHS Grampian, Alzheimer’s Scotland and the Scottish Clinical Dementia Research Network. We would also like to thank all the participants for their support in taking part. This project was completed as part of a doctoral dissertation by P.M. Insch.


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Eye gaze
  • Joint attention
  • Social cue decoding
  • Theory of mind


Dive into the research topics of 'Gaze detection and gaze cuing in Alzheimer's disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this